Iran General NewsFuture US forces in Iraq don't threaten Iran: Pentagon

Future US forces in Iraq don’t threaten Iran: Pentagon

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ImageAFP: US forces which might remain in Iraq in the future after a general drawdown are not meant to be permanent and will not be used to attack Iran, a Pentagon official said Monday.

ImageWASHINGTON (AFP) — US forces which might remain in Iraq in the future after a general drawdown are not meant to be permanent and will not be used to attack Iran, a Pentagon official said Monday.

"US forces in Iraq will not be used for offensive operations against any of Iraq's neighbors," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, speaking about the current talks between Washington and Baghdad over an ongoing US military presence in Iraq.

He said that Iraq had asked the US to replace the current, soon-to-expire UN mandate on the US force presence with a bilateral deal."

"It is the government of Iraq that has expressed its desire that (after) the UN Chapter 7 mandate that expires at the end of the year, that we have other frameworks in place to be able to go forward with a bilateral relationship," Whitman said.

"The US government continues to work with the Iraqi government on an agreement that would provide for this post-Chapter 7 framework."

But, he added, "We are not seeking permanent military bases in Iraq."

Earlier Monday Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against signing an agreement with the United States keeping foreign troops in the country beyond 2008.

"The most fundamental problem of Iraq is the presence of the foreign forces," Khamenei told Maliki in comments reported by state television.

"The fact that a foreign element wants to interfere in the affairs of Iraq and dominate the country progressively is the main problem for the development and wellbeing of the Iraqis," Khamenei said.

Iraqi media reports have said the United States is seeking to keep as many as 50 bases indefinitely. US officials have denied having any such plans.

On Sunday, Maliki had sought to reassure Tehran over the planned security pact.

"We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran and neighbors," he said.

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