News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran security chief Larijani meets Maliki in Baghdad

Iran security chief Larijani meets Maliki in Baghdad

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AFP: Iran’s top national security official Ali Larijani arrived in Baghdad on Sunday on a previously unannounced three-day visit and opened talks with senior officials, state television reported. BAGHDAD, April 29, 2007 (AFP) – Iran’s top national security official Ali Larijani arrived in Baghdad on Sunday on a previously unannounced three-day visit and opened talks with senior officials, state television reported.

The three-day visit came as the neighbours announced that Iran would send its foreign minister to a conference of world and regional powers this week to find ways to help Iraq build peace and overcome its current security crisis.

“The visit of Mr Larijani is in the framework of bilateral relations. He will probably talk about security questions and the international conference” in Egypt, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in Tehran.

An Iraqi government official confirmed Larijani’s arrival and Iraqi state television later announced that he met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Iran maintains close ties with many figures in Maliki’s Shiite-led government, despite the suspicions of his embattled coalition’s other main ally, the United States.

US commanders allege that Iranian agents fund, train and equip many of the extremist factions involved in Iraq’s insurgency and sectarian war, including those which target Iraqi and American forces.

Five Iranian officials have been in US custody in Iraq since December, when they were seized in a raid in the northern city of Arbil.

Washington says the men are operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ covert Qods Force. Iran insists they are diplomats.

Maliki has tried to steer a difficult middle route between his mismatched supporters, refusing to criticise his larger neighbour while calling on all the countries in the region to help cut off support for Iraqi extremists.

A visit by Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh to Tehran later on Sunday was cancelled after Larijani decided to go to Iraq himself, Iranian state media reported.

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