Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Iran says will block militants from entering Iraq

Iran's foreign minister pledged on Tuesday that his country would act to stop insurgents crossing into Iraq. READ MORE

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, the most senior Iranian official to visit Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, said he had promised that new Shi'ite-led government that Iran would cooperate on security and not provide any support to the insurgency.

"We will not allow terrorists to use our lands to access Iraq," Kharrazi told a news conference in Baghdad.

"We will watch our borders and will arrest infiltrators, because securing Iraq is securing the Islamic Republic."

Iraq, struggling to contain insurgent attacks that have killed more than 400 people since a new government was unveiled three weeks ago, has accused neighbouring countries of not doing enough to secure their borders.

Although Iraq and Iran fought a bitter war in the 1980s, Iraq's new government has strong links with Tehran. Many of the Iraqi Shi'ite Islamists who fought Saddam lived in exile in Iran over the past two decades.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari welcomed Kharrazi's comments, and said the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was an enemy of both countries.

"We need the help of our brothers in neighbouring countries at this stage to curb terrorism and control the borders ... We are sure the Islamic Republic does not want al Qaeda and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on our lands," Zebari said.