Iraqi official briefs Iran on ongoing insurgency, demands Tehran help curb infiltration

Saturday, November 27th 2004, 9:58 am
By: News On 6

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ An Iraqi vice president briefed neighboring Iran on his country's ongoing insurgency Saturday, demanding the Tehran government's assistance in curbing the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq, his adviser said.

Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari met Iranian President Mohammad Khatami just days before Iran hosts interior ministers of Iraq's neighboring states, plus Egypt, for a regional conference.

``Al-Jaafari presented President Khatami with a detailed report about security problems in Iraq and briefed him on how insurgents, after the Fallujah fighting, were changing their tactics from a military phase into a political agenda to undermine the upcoming elections,'' Javad Taleb, an adviser to al-Jaafari, told The Associated Press.

Taleb quoted al-Jaafari as telling Khatami that Iraq wanted the Tehran conference of ministers to help stem the insurgency to allow for peaceful staging of the first post-Saddam democratic elections.

``Iraq needs the security help of its neighbors and it hopes neighbors, during the Tehran conference, give adequate promises to curb any infiltration through their borders into Iraq,'' Taleb quoted al-Jaafari as telling Khatami.

Washington has accused Tehran of interfering in Iraq and sending money and infiltrators to foment the insurgency there. Iran has criticized the U.S.-led campaign against insurgents.

Iran has denied the charges but said it did not rule out the possibility that some infiltrators might have crossed its border illegally.

A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has downplayed the likelihood of delaying the Jan. 30 elections, despite calls by Sunni Muslim politicians and a number of political parties to postpone the vote because of security concerns.

Khatami, according to state-run radio, also believes the Iraqi elections should be held on time.

The two-day meeting of interior ministers from Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria begins Tuesday.

The ministers are expected to be accompanied by senior security officials, who can share intelligence on militants and other people suspected of being linked to the insurgency in Iraq.

``It is hoped that the Tehran meeting will produce practical results in halting terrorist infiltrations into Iraq, and also assist in locating terrorist groups operating from within other countries in the region, potentially freezing their funding,'' said a Friday statement from the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Analysts say Iran hopes its hosting of the meeting will send a signal, particularly to the United States, that it recognizes the threat al-Qaida poses both to Iraq and to itself.

Osama bin Laden's terror network is believed to have strong ties to the major Iraqi insurgency group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on both bin Laden and al-Zarqawi.