Iran Calls on Iraq to Reject US Pressure

A01175375.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Iraqis not to give in to “unwarranted” US demands, amid rising controversy in Baghdad over a security pact.

“It is the duty of the Iraqi people and government to persevere in the face of the occupiers’ unwarranted demands, as resistance and perseverance brings unity and glory to a country,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday in a meeting with visiting Iraqi Parliament Speaker, Mahmud Mashhadani.

The US was ‘intoxicated’ with power when it invaded Iraq in 2003 but now ‘it is on the road to decline,’ the Iranian president told Mashhadani, after the Iraqi official briefed him on the neighboring country’s current security situation.

During his two-day visit to Tehran, Mashhadani discussed the Iraq-US pact with other Iranian officials, such his counterpart Ali Larijani who said the deal would have ‘unsavory ramifications’ for the sovereignty of Iraq and other regional states.

Mashhadani’s visit to Iran comes as Washington increases pressure on Iraqi officials to sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which will determine the future of US forces in Iraq when the UN mandate expires on December 31, press tv reported.

During the past months, the SOFA has placed Iraqi and American officials at loggerheads over key issues, such as the number of bases the US will retain in Iraq, the immunity to be extended to US forces and security personnel, and the provision of a troop withdrawal timetable.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte made an unannounced visit to Iraq earlier this week to persuade Iraqi officials to sign the deal; he also proposed several amendments to it.

Most representatives to the Iraqi Parliament, who must approve the security deal before it is signed, have expressed strong opposition to key parts of the agreement.

On Saturday, head of the Sadr block, Aql Abdol-Hossein, commented on the amendments that Negroponte was seeking to add to the SOFA draft during his visit, saying that they would violate Iraq’s sovereignty and push the country toward ‘a tunnel of darkness.’

Head of Iraq’s majority parliamentary bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, Seyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim has also stated that the current terms and articles of the security pact violate Iraq’s sovereignty and do not serve to remove the country from Chapter VII of the UN charter.

The Chapter classifies Iraq as an outlawed country and places constraints on its political, military and economic activities as a result of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait under Saddam Hussein in 1990.

More than five years after the fall of the former dictator and the establishment of a democratically-elected government in the country, the UN is yet to remove Iraq from Chapter VII.

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