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. Tehran asks Baghdad to oppose building of foreign bases
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 06, 2005
Iran's defense minister called on Iraq Wednesday to oppose the construction by foreign powers of military bases, which it said would consolidate their presence in the region and reinforce Israel's security.

Admiral Ali Shamkani, during a meeting with his visiting Iraqi counterpart, Saadun al-Dulaimi, said Iran "opposes that and asks the Iraqi government to exercise its authority in the matter."

Iran is particularly concerned about the US military presence on two of its flanks -- Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east -- but Shamkani never mentioned the United States by name.

Instead, "the Iraqi government and people should not allow foreign powers to consolidate their presence in the region and thereby reinforce the the security of the Zionist regime."

He added that such bases could not be intended "solely for the purposes of the battle against a minor revolt like that of Al-Qaeda," the student news agency ISNA quoted him as saying.

"We hope that foreign troops will quickly leave Iraq and that Iraqi security forces will take charge of the country's security," he added.

He also said Iran was prepared to aid Iraq in achieving security, adding that this, along with security in Iran, would have a positive influence on the region.

Dulaimi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday night for a three-day visit.

He is accompanied by the Iraqi chief of staff, and the heads of the army, air force and navy. They will meet with a range of political and military leaders, and visit a number of military and industrial sites.

This is the first visit by an Iraqi military delegation since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.

The two countries fought a 1980-1988 war that left more than a million people dead on both sides. Relations have been improving in recent years and entered a new phase in May when Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi visited Baghdad.

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