Daily Telegraph: America is prepared to “reciprocate” if Iran halts shipments of arms to Iraq’s Shia Muslim militias, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Baghdad has said. The Daily Telegraph
By Damien McElroy in Baghdad
America is prepared to “reciprocate” if Iran halts shipments of arms to Iraq’s Shia Muslim militias, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Baghdad has said.
Gen Petreaus revealed attacks by Iranian-backed groups may have declined following a meeting between Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August.
“Honestly, and I really mean this, all of us would really welcome the opportunity to see this, confirm it and even – in whatever way we could – to reciprocate,” Gen Petraeus told the Los Angeles Times. “But it really is wait-and-see time right now.”
American diplomats participated in ground-breaking negotiations with Iranian officials in Baghdad this summer but Gen Petraeus gave credit to Iraq’s prime minister for sealing an apparent deal.
“The president of Iran pledged to Prime Minister Maliki during a recent meeting that he would stop the flow of weapons, the training, the funding and the directing of these militia extremists that have been such a huge problem really for Iraq,” Gen Petraeus said.
The most obvious goodwill gesture open to Gen Petraeus is to release Iranian officials held by US forces and accused of being senior figures in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Qods Force, a secretive unit that directs support for overseas terrorists.
Iran last week announced the closure of its border with Iraq to protest the detention of Mahmudi Farhadi. Mr Farhadi was held on suspicion of meeting with militia commanders but Iran claims he is a well-known private businessman.
Five Iranian officials were detained at an Iranian-owned building in northern Iraq in January.
America accuses the Iranian regime of training, financing and supplying insurgent groups that have killed thousands of its troops, and untold numbers of civilians in Iraq.
US military officials in Baghdad have steadily upped public pressure on Iran by putting captured Iranian-made munitions on display.
Rear Admiral Mark Fox, a coalition spokesman, announced that “several” Misagh-1 Iranian-made missiles had been seized by US troops. It was the latest in a series of such revelations in the last two weeks.
He said: “We’ve said that we’ve found these things, we’ve seen them employed. That’s significant in its own right.”
An aide to Prime Minister Maliki appeared to confirm the Iraqi leader had secured concessions from Iran’s hardline President Ahmadinejad.
“The prime minister has been saying recently that the Iranians have been giving him strong promises,” the official said. “The results of these promises are starting to be felt as far as the trafficking of weapons is concerned.”