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Iraq unhappy with Odierno's Iran bribe comments

Odierno had said in an interview published by the Washington Post on Monday that Iran was working publicly and covertly to undermine the planned Status of Forces Agreement between Baghdad and Washington that would provide the legal basis for a US troop presence beyond this year.
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 15, 2008
Iraq criticised as "inappropriate" on Wednesday comments by US commander General Raymond Odierno accusing Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi MPs to derail a planned military pact with Washington.

"The Iraqi government expresses its deep concern after the statements attributed to General Raymond Odierno," said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, describing the remarks as "inappropriate."

"These kind of remarks are likely to tarnish the good relations between Iraq and the forces of the international coalition."

Odierno had said in an interview published by the Washington Post on Monday that Iran was working publicly and covertly to undermine the planned Status of Forces Agreement between Baghdad and Washington that would provide the legal basis for a US troop presence beyond this year.

"Clearly, this is one they're having a 'full court press' on to try to ensure there's never any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq," the paper quoted Odierno as saying, using a basketball expression.

"We know that there are many relationships with people here for many years going back to when Saddam (Hussein) was in charge, and I think they're utilising those contacts to attempt to influence the outcome of the potential vote in the Council of Representatives (parliament)," the general added.

"There are many intelligence reports" that suggest Iranians are "coming in to pay off people to vote against it," he said, while acknowledging that he had no definitive proof.

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll said on Wednesday that Odierno's comment were not meant to infer that any Iraqi officials had accepted bribes.

"The Council of Representative members work hard to represent and serve the Iraqi people performing an honourable, critical role in building the new Iraq," he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's spokesman Yasin Majeed said on Wednesday that top officials were considering a new draft of the proposed Status of Forces Agreement with a view to forwarding it to parliament.

But he added that the discussions were likely to continue into the first half of next week and that further changes were likely. "We cannot say it is a final draft," he said.

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US commander accuses Iran of trying to bribe Iraqis
Washington (AFP) Oct 13, 2008
General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, has accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year, The Washington Post reported Monday.







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