News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran promises to help Iraq in ending violence there

Iran promises to help Iraq in ending violence there

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New York Times: Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pledged Monday in a meeting with the Iraqi president that Iran would do all it could to stop the growing violence in Iraq. The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI and KIRK SEMPLE
Published: November 28, 2006

TEHRAN, Nov. 27 — Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pledged Monday in a meeting with the Iraqi president that Iran would do all it could to stop the growing violence in Iraq.

“The Iranian government and people will stand by their brothers in Iraq and will do anything to help bring peace into Iraq,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a news conference with the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, state-run television reported. “A safe, developed and strong Iraq is better for Iran and also for the region,” he said.

In an effort to increase its role as an influential power in the region, Iran also invited the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to join the talks. But Mr. Assad did not respond to the invitation, according to an official at Mr. Ahmadinejad’s office who requested anonymity.

Analysts believe that Mr. Talabani is here to urge Iranian officials to hold direct talks with the United States to help stop the bloodshed in Iraq. Iran has close ties with Shiite leaders in Iraq, and it might be able to call on them to exert restraint. Many of them lived in Iran in exile when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq.

A draft report by an American bipartisan commission studying new strategies for Iraq urges that the United States conduct direct talks with Iran and Syria, according to American officials who have seen all or part of the document.

In the press conference, Mr. Talabani, a Kurd who had close ties to Iran, said Iraq needed Iran’s help to bring peace.

“We seriously need Iran’s help to restore stability and security,” he was quoted as saying.

Iran and Iraq fought a bloody war from 1980 to 1988. Mr. Talabani was Iraq’s first president to travel to Iran when he came a year ago, and Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, visited Iran in September.

In Iraq on Monday, an American fighter jet crashed in Anbar Province about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, the American military command reported. The Air Force F-16, which had one pilot on board, was supporting combat troops when it went down, the military said, offering no further details.

Mohammed al-Obeidi, a resident in the nearby town of Karma who witnessed the crash, told The Associated Press that the jet had been flying erratically before it plunged into a field and exploded. Al Jazeera television reported that two Iraqi militant groups, Mujahedeen Army and the Mujahedeen Shura Council, claimed that they had brought down the plane, according to Reuters.

Three American soldiers were killed in the capital and two were wounded during combat operations on Sunday, according to a military press statement.

American forces opened fire on civilians in the Husseiniya neighborhood in northeast Baghdad late Monday night, killing five and wounding eight, an Interior Ministry official said. An American military spokeswoman in Baghdad said she had no information on the shooting.

On Monday, the government lifted a curfew it had imposed on Baghdad after a series of car bombs on Thursday killed more than 200 people in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City.

The curfew gave way to scattered violence on Monday. According to the Interior Ministry official, three guards were kidnapped from the Municipal Building, the latest in a series of brazen daylight attacks against government buildings.

At least six people were killed and 20 wounded in attacks in the capital, including a mortar bombardment, two clashes between gunmen and Iraqi security forces, and another kidnapping, the official said.

The Iraqi police found at least 39 bodies scattered around Baghdad and another five dumped just east of the city, according to the official.

In Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, gunmen killed a store owner in the town of Muqdadiya, then hid a bomb in the store and detonated it when a group of civilians arrived to retrieve the owner’s body, the ministry official said. Four of them were killed and 25 were wounded, according to the official. Twelve more people were killed in other incidents around Baquba, the provincial capital, the official said.

Nazila Fathi reported from Tehran, and Kirk Semple from Baghdad.

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