Envoy Calls for Immediate Pullout of US Troops from Iraq

A04108392.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The United States has worn out its welcome with the Iraqi people who are upset about the occupation, Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad said.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, described Iraq as “an independent and free country, a country which we (Iranians) wish had stability and security”.

He expressed the hope that it would soon witness the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from its territory.

He also said that Iran was “taking steps with the Iraqi people to support the Iraqi government in the political process and in the security process,” and ruled out US claims about Tehran support for insurgency in the war-torn country.

Kazemi Qomi said American’s decision to impose a security pact on Iraq in a bid to provide footing for the US military presence in the country would make Iraqis ‘angrier’ as the deal did not take their interests into account.

He warned that the deal had to be in the interests of the Iraqi people who would “disagree with anything that breaks their independence or sovereignty.”

The Iraqi people were ‘upset’ that Americans term their offers democratic and in line with the path of freedom.

The US is in talks with Iraqi officials to get them to sign a provocative security agreement which secures long-term US presence in Iraq.

It also gives the occupation forces a free rein to stage military operations wherever and whenever they deem necessary, without consulting the Iraqi government.

Tehran is concerned that the yet-not-concluded security deal could lead to establishment of permanent US bases in the neighboring country.

The controversial agreement has drawn criticism from many Iraqi officials, lawyers, religious and political figures across the country.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered religious leader in Iraq, has also rejected the security agreement with the US, saying such a deal will undermine the country’s sovereignty.

Many fear Washington has plans to keep permanent bases, despite a denial of any such plan written into the proposal. Iraqis say the drafts submitted by the Americans thus far would infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty by giving US forces too much freedom to operate.

The security pact also faces strong criticism from members of al-Maliki’s own coalition. Two Iraqi officials familiar with the negotiations have warned that a deal is unlikely to be reached before the end of President Bush’s term in January unless Washington backs off some demands seen as giving American forces too much freedom to operate in Iraq and infringing on Iraqi sovereignty.

Iraq’s parliament must approve the deal, and the two officials said opposition in the legislature was so widespread that it stood no chance of winning approval without significant changes in the US position. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations.

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