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. Iraq to launch military, anti-terror cooperation with Iran
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 07, 2005
Iraq is to launch military and anti-terrorist cooperation with Iran and will not allow its soil to be used for attacks on its neighbour, the visiting Iraqi defense minister said Thursday.

"I have come to Iran to ask forgiveness for what Saddam Hussein has done. The same has to be done with Kuwait and all Saddam Hussein's victims," Saadun al-Dulaimi said at a press conference with Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani.

Dulaimi said it was too soon for foreign troops to pull out of his country. "Given the present situation, if foreign forces leave Iraq, there will be nothing but chaos and more trouble," he said.

Iran is concerned about the US military presence on its borders and has repeatedly called for their withdrawal.

"Iraq will not be a source of insecurity and instability for any of its neighbors. Nobody can use its soil to attack Iraq's neighbors," Dulaimi said, in response to Iranian concerns over a possible American attack on Iran.

Shamkhani announced the formation of joint committees for military cooperation, the fight against terrorism, clearing minefields and investigating the missing soldiers from the 1980-1988 between Iran and Saddam's Iraq.

The military committee is aimed at "equipping the Iraqi army ... to create an independent and self-sufficient Iraqi army", he said.

The Iraqi minister pledged the United States could not oppose the cooperation between the two countries: "We are going to cooperate and no one can stop this cooperation".

The two ministers, however, agreed that more sensitive issues such as a peace treaty and war reparations were far from being resolved.

"We have come to our Iranian brothers to ask them for help and we have not yet started on the more sensitive issues," the Iraqi minister said about the massive reparations claimed by Iran.

"Our Iranian brothers have promised us a billion dollar aid as a loan," he added.

About a peace pact, following the war which ended in an August 1988 ceasefire brokered by the United Nations, "it is still too soon, that will be the final step in cooperation", Shamkhani said.

The two ministers also discussed the continued presence in Iraq of Iran's main armed opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, which Saddam supported in its cross-border raids on Iran.

"The Mujahedeen can stay in Iraq if they act like political refugees but they will have no place if they act against Iran," Dulaimi said.

Shamkhani said the Mujahedeen would be on the agenda of the anti-terrorism committee.

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