AFP: Iran is losing influence in Iraq, US President George W. Bush said in a French television interview broadcast Thursday a day before he arrives in Paris on the penultimate leg of a farewell European tour.
PARIS (AFP) — Iran is losing influence in Iraq, US President George W. Bush said in a French television interview broadcast Thursday a day before he arrives in Paris on the penultimate leg of a farewell European tour.
"Obviously there is some… Iranian influence inside Iraq — but it's less than it has been, and will continue to lessen, in my judgment, as its economy and as its political society begins to develop," Bush told France 3 television.
"Iraq is becoming a democracy, a functioning democracy. They understand Iranian influence is destabilising," he said.
But Bush also reaffirmed he would not rule out military force as an option to force Iran to abandon its suspect nuclear drive.
"Yes, it's still there. Absolutely it's got to be on the table. But, of course, I've always said to the American people we want to solve this problem diplomatically, and we're going to work to solve it diplomatically.
"But the Iranians have got to understand all options are on the table."
Speaking in Germany on Wednesday, Bush said he backed Europe-led diplomacy to convince Iran to halt uranium enrichment, which can be a key step towards atomic weapons. But he also warned he had not ruled out using force.
Iran denies Western charges that its nuclear programme hides an atomic weapons push.
Asked about the risk of the United States facing a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bush replied, "I think that's always a threat".
"No question it's still a dangerous world," he said. "But but there's tools now in place, that we put in place, that will help the next president deal with the security issue."
"What has changed is (that) we've got the pressure on Al-Qaeda. The very ones who attacked us are now on the defense."
The US leader arrives Friday in Paris on the latest leg of a week-long visit to Europe that has already taken him to Slovenia, Germany, Italy and the Vatican, and which will end with a stop in London.