The Canadian Press & Associated Press – 2007-01-28 08:53:58
Iran Blasts US Orders for Troops
To Kill or Capture Iranians in Iraq
TEHRAN, Iran (January 27, 2007) — A top Iranian legislator lashed out Saturday at the United States for authorizing its troops to kill or capture Iranians in Iraq whom US forces believe to pose a threat to them.
Alaeddin Borujerdi said on Iranian television Saturday: “This is support for terrorism. It is against all recognized international treaties to order the death of nationals of another country in a foreign land.”
Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian legislature’s foreign policy and national security committee, was referring to comments by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Friday that US forces “are authorized to go after those who are trying to kill them.”
Two raids by US forces in Iraq since late December that resulted in the detaining of 16 Iranians have stoked tension between Iran and the United States. Iran and the United States are at odds over accusations by the international community that Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover to develop weapons – charges Iran denies. Washington also accuses Iran, which is run by a Shiite Muslim theocracy, of supporting Shiite militias in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday “bullying and threatening” are part of the US strategy in Iraq and Iran is a “part of resolving Iraq’s problems, not a part of the problem itself.”
Two diplomats among the Iranians detained in the US.raids were subsequently released to Iranian officials.
The US ambassador to Iraq said last week one of the Iranians detained by US.forces during the round ups was the director of operations for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds faction, the organization responsible for funding and arming Iraqi militants.
US Must Explain Mideast Military Build-up: Russia
(January 27, 2007) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would demand an explanation from the United States over its military build-up in the Middle East and criticised Washington for “hardline” policies against Iran.
Lavrov said he would discuss Moscow’s concerns during a meeting of the international quartet group, which meets in Washington next week to try to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“I have not seen any change in the rather aggressive rhetoric from Washington. It continues, as does the growing military presence in the region. This will be one of the questions that we want to clear up in Washington,” he was quoted as saying by state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
Lavrov also criticised what he said were US threats to bypass the United Nations in taking new measures against Iran’s controversial nuclear power programme.
Washington believes the programme, in which Russia is building the first civilian power station at Bushehr, secretly aims to build an atomic weapon.
“Washington’s hardline policy concerning Iran foresees… much tougher sanctions than those called for in the last UN Security Council resolution,” he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. “We would like to get an explanation on what stands behind this.”
Unilateral measures “damage the joint work on Iran and our joint goal of getting Tehran to restart negotiations,” he said, Interfax news agency reported.
Lavrov urged the United States to include Iran and Syria in a wider Middle East peace process, saying the two countries, which have long been at loggerheads with the United States, could positively influence both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis in Lebanon.
“We are deeply convinced that Iran and Syria must be included in the process,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax. “Many Arab countries are for including all influential players in the regulation of the Middle East crisis,” he said, ITAR-TASS reported. “This means including Iran and Syria in resolving the Lebanese and the Palestinian-Israeli problems.”
The international quartet is to meet February 2 in the US capital, according to the State Department.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will host Lavrov, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of violence and tensions in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territory, as well as the raging conflict in Iraq, where 21,000 extra US troops are due to be deployed shortly.
The United States has also boosted forces in the region with the dispatch of an aircraft carrier, which should join another already present in about a month, according to the US Navy.
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