US dismisses Iranian pledge to help unite Iraq | world | Hindustan Times
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US dismisses Iranian pledge to help unite Iraq

world Updated: Sep 23, 2007 08:42 IST

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Iran pledged at UN talks on Saturday to help national reconciliation in Iraq but the assurance was immediately brushed aside by the Islamic republic's archrival the United States.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki joined other neighbors of Iraq in making the pledge at a high level meeting which agreed to support a bigger UN role in the war-ravaged country.

Mottaki also attacked continued US presence in Iraq, Iran's immediate neighbor, at the talks, co-chaired by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Briefing reporters after the talks, the US special advisor to Iraq, David Sutterfield, said that in a "very long" presentation at the meeting, Mottaki seemed "more focused" on the United States than on issues regarding Iraq.

"I believe somewhere in those remarks, there was a reference to the need to advance national reconciliation," he said.

Asked whether he was convinced by the assurance, Sutterfield said, "You would have to take their commitments in the context on what they are doing on the ground.

"What they are doing on the ground is continuing to supply arms and training on arms to the most violeent, the most lethal, the most radical elements in Iraq.

"We don't believe this is consistent with the pledge to support reconciliation," Sutterfield said.

The meeting was also attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who sat opposite Mottaki. They did not make any direct contact.

Rice, without citing Iran or another US archrival Syria, made clear in her remarks that "all of those neighbors of Iraq -- all, without exception -- should support security, stability and respect for Iraq's sovereignty," Sutterfield said.

Washington accuses Tehran of providing sophisticated weaponry to Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria of turning a blind eye to infiltration of its borders by Sunni insurgents, charges both governments deny.

The top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said this month that there was hard evidence of Iranian involvement in attacks on US soldiers.

Two months ago, the United States announced massive new multi-billion dollar military pacts for its allies in the Middle East, including Israel, in a bid to counter Iran and Syria.

They include a 20-billion dollar weapons package for Saudi Arabia, a 13-billion dollar package for Egypt, and reportedly arms deals worth at least 20-billion dollars for other Gulf states.