Problems with Syria, Iran should not be aired publicly: Allawi
Sat Jan 8, 6:40 AM ET Mideast - AFP
DUBAI (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he would use all available means to defend Iraqis against neighboring states harboring "terrorists," but appeared to rebuke his defense minister who has repeatedly slammed Syria and Iran.
"The interim Iraqi government is entrusted with ensuring the security of Iraqi citizens with all available means -- be they diplomatic, political or otherwise -- and we will not hesitate to use them," he told the Dubai-based daily Al-Bayan on Saturday.
"Some neighboring countries host terrorist elements who make plans to undermine (Iraqi) national security from inside these countries," Allawi said.
But asked about Defense Minister Hazem al-Shaalan's "fiery" remarks about Syria and Iran, which he has repeatedly blamed for violence by anti-US insurgents in Iraq (news - web sites), Allawi said differences within the government were not about substance but about "ways of dealing" with the issue.
"In my judgement, that should be (through) diplomatic channels, not in a media auction that does not help resolve any problem with this or that country," he said.
"A positive relationship with Syria is at the top of my priorities," Allawi added.
Allawi himself has made public statements critical of Syria and asked it to hand over Iraqis implicated in the ongoing violence in Iraq.
In his latest diatribe against Syria and Iran, Shaalan threatened Friday to instigate violence in these two countries.
"We do not want to be a party in harming either Syria or Iran ... (But) we have the means of shifting the battlefield from the streets of Baghdad to the streets of Tehran and Damascus," said Shaalan, whose remarks were reported by Arab satellite channels.
"But believe me, neither I, nor the prime minister, nor the president, nor the ministers, nor even the (US-led) coalition forces intend to meddle in Syrian or Iranian affairs," he added.
His remarks were accompanied by the release of a video purporting to show confessions by a top insurgent that militants received help from Iran and Syria.
In the interview with Al-Bayan, Allawi charged that neighboring regimes feared a democratic Iraq would make it impossible for them to survive in office if their peoples demanded similar democracy.
He said his government wanted two things of its neighbors: "control their borders with Iraq and prevent infiltration (of insurgents), and stop media mobilization campaigns ... whereby terrorism is called 'resistance'."
Both Syria and its key regional ally Iran have repeatedly rejected US-led accusations that they are meddling in Iraq.
Final statement of Jordan meeting incorporates Iran's demands: Iranian Official
Amman, Jan 8, IRNA -- Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Gholam Ali Khoshrou said in Amman on Friday the final statement issued at the end of a four-hour meeting of Iraq's neighboring states incorporates Iran's demands and views.
Talking to IRNA, Khoshrou said the discusssions that took place during the meeting with the Iranian delegation were positive and that the delegation was able to convey the important principles Iran had always emphasized.
"The necessity of holding direct elections in Iraq at the time scheduled with the participation of all groups in the country were among the demands of the Iranian delegation," he added.
In connection with the upcoming elections, "Iran has called for a condemnation of terrorist activities against the defenseless Iraqi nation and an end to the aggression on the holy sites in the country respected by Muslims and these have been included in the final final statement of the meeting."
He stressed the importance of the election as one that would put in place a new government chosen through a democratic process that would have the credibility and acceptance necessary to establishing peaceful ties with its neighbors.
Khoshrou further stated that participants of the Amman meet stressed the importance of the new Iraqi government honoring its commitments to international and multilateral agreements.
Iran also asked for the trial of former Ba'ath Party members who were responsible for launching attacks against the Iranian and Kuwaiti nations and the murder of thousands of innocent Iraqis, he noted.
The Iranian deputy foreign minister said that on the sidelines of the meeting he conferred with foreign ministers of Iraq's neighboring states on bilateral relations.
Foreign ministers of Iraq's neighboring states wrapped up their four-hour meeting on Iraq's upcoming election in the Jordanian capital Amman Thursday night with the issuance of a final statement.
In the statement, the participants declared their support for the holding of elections in Iraq as scheduled by the interim government on January 30 as a prelude to an independent and sovereign Iraq.
Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Syria are the neighboring states of Iraq which sent foreign ministerial delegations to the meeting.
"In his latest diatribe against Syria and Iran, Shaalan threatened Friday to instigate violence in these two countries."
If Iraq is stabilized and begins to prosper, there won't be any "instigating" necessary.