Reuters: A senior Iranian diplomat on Wednesday rejected U.S. charges that Iran was trying to undermine stability in Iraq and accused the United States of trying to blame Tehran for its own failures there.
By Megan Davies
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A senior Iranian diplomat on Wednesday rejected U.S. charges that Iran was trying to undermine stability in Iraq and accused the United States of trying to blame Tehran for its own failures there.
At a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Iraq, U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff repeated the U.S. charge that Tehran continues to support insurgents fighting the U.S.-led forces there and said Iran was trying to destabilize its neighbour.
"During the recent operations in Basra, Sadr City and Maysan, Iraqi troops uncovered convincing evidence that Iranian lethal aid has continued to flow into Iraq," he said.
He said highly trained insurgents had fled to Iran, where they received sanctuary, adding that the activities of Iran's Islamic Republican Guards Corps-Qods Force "contradict Iran's publicly stated policy of supporting the Iraqi government and must cease."
Iranian U.N. envoy Mehdi Danesh Yazdi rejected the allegations, lashing back at Wolff's comments in a statement he circulated at the United Nations.
"The U.S. government unwarrantedly insists on its unacceptable behaviour in scapegoating others, including Iran, for its own wrong policies in Iraq in order to distract the attentions from the sources of U.S. failures in that country," Yazdi said.
The source of the failures were the continued presence of U.S. and other foreign troops in Iraq, he said.
Iran and Iraq fought an eight-year war in the 1980s although ties have improved since U.S.-led forces ousted the Sunni Arab strongman Saddam Hussein five years ago and a Shi'ite Muslim-dominated government came to power in Baghdad.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in June told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq was the biggest obstacle to its development as a united country.
However, violence has decreased and security improved across most of Iraq in the past three months, a top U.N. official told the council at the same meeting.
"Violent incidents and casualties have declined and we have witnessed the improved performance of Iraq security forces during a series of operations," said Lynn Pascoe, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs.
But Pascoe stressed that civilian casualties remain unacceptably high while much progress was still needed on the political front.
In Baghdad, Iraqi lawmakers on Wednesday postponed a vote on a new election law by at least a month. The law to clear the way for provincial elections in Iraq, seen as an important step in strengthening the country's fragile democracy, is being held up by a feud over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
"The U.N. has been doing all it can to urge practical compromises," Pascoe said. "A failure to come to agreement on a law at this time would be a major setback, not only for the prospects of elections this year but for the larger process of national reconciliation in Iraq."
The Security Council is expected to vote on Friday to extend the mandate of the U.N. mission in Iraq, which has vowed to expand the role of the United Nations there.
(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Bill Trott)