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Iraq Transition

Iran: U.S. causes Iraq violence

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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's supreme leader on Tuesday said American policies in Iraq are the "main cause" of that country's violence and insecurity, and withdrawal of "foreign forces" is the first step to ending the country's discord, according to an Iranian news agency report.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the remarks while meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is visiting Iran and holding discussions with its leaders.

Talabani was welcomed Monday by his counterpart, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was at the Tuesday meeting. (Watch as former enemies meet in Tehran Video)

"U.S. policies being implemented through mediators are the main cause of the current situation in Iraq," Khamenei is quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), a state-run operation.

He said those who are implementing such policies want to pick a Saddam Hussein-style dictator, a move he said will fail.

"Strengthening terrorist groups in Iraq and igniting the flames of insecurity and genocide in the country will be quite risky for the U.S. agents and the region," the IRNA quotes Khamenei as saying.

The report said Khamenei pointed to the withdrawal of coalition forces and the handing over of security to Iraq's government "as the first measure towards solving the issue of insecurity in the country."

"U.S. agents in Iraq are doomed to failure and continuation of Iraq's occupation is not a bite to be swallowed by the U.S.," he said.

He told Talabani that the insecurity is conducted to destabilize the government.

"Those who once conspired a ploy for Iraq and then saw it botched are now bent on destabilizing the situation in every possible way through their agents in the field that include terrorists, takfiris and former Baathists."

He also said perpetrators of violence in Iraq operate "under the cover" of sectarian strife.

"The fact is that Shiites and Sunnis have been co-existing peacefully for several centuries and there has been no discord among them," he said,

Khamenei, described as Iran's "highest-ranking political authority," said it "considers assistance in establishment of security in Iraq as its religious and human task" and supports development in Iraq too.

Bilateral ties

"Iran will spare no efforts to promote stability and security in Iraq, if Iraqi officials call for such help," Khamenei said.

Underlining that such insecurities in the country are aimed at undermining Iraq's popular government, Ayatollah Khamenei said that given the failure of the enemies plots against Iraq, they intend to undermine the current situation in any possible way.

Khamenei called for both countries to pursue agreements and bilateral ties.

Talabani's meeting with Ahmadinejad, originally scheduled for Saturday, was delayed when Iraq closed Baghdad International Airport and imposed a curfew after more than 200 people were killed Thursday in the capital's Shiite slum of Sadr City.

Police called it the single worst attack since the war began.

Joining Talabani on his trip to Iran is Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, as well as the ministers of oil, education, industry, science and technology and a number of Iraqi parliament members, Talabani's office told CNN.

The meeting, which had initially been planned for Saturday, is intended in part to discuss Iran's role in creating a more stable Iraq.

Iraq restored diplomatic relations with its neighbor Syria on Tuesday during a visit to Baghdad by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem. The two countries severed relations in 1982, when Damascus sided with Tehran in its war with Iraq.

The United States has refused to negotiate with Iran and Syria about helping to bring stability to Iraq, accusing both Tehran and Damascus of aiding insurgent groups in Iraq. But the Bush administration has been under pressure recently to make changes in its strategy and open talks with Iran and Syria.

Iraq restored diplomatic relations with Iran in 1990, at the end of the 10-year war that killed an estimated 1 million people. Relations between Iraq and Iran have improved markedly since the fall of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated Baath party. Shiite Muslims comprise the majority of the Iranian and Iraqi populations.


SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
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