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Iran calls for national reconciliation in Iraq
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08:38, May 30, 2008

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Iran on Thursday called for national reconciliation in Iraq, in an obvious attempt to ward off Western concerns over its influence in Iraqi politics.

Both Iraq and Iran are Shi'ite Muslim countries although the minority Sunni group had governed Iraq during former president Saddam Hussein's rule.

"My country has always declared that the prosperity of Iraq lies in the peaceful cohabitation of all Iraqi groups," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told an international conference on Iraq here.

"We do believe that the key to the preservation of the true identity of Iraq and the survival of this country as an Arab-Islamic nation is tied to the promotion of national understanding and concord among all Iraqi groups," he said.

"Restoration of security and stability as well as promotion of national solidarity, and also prevention of actions which might incite hostilities and conflicts in Iraq are of utmost importance to the Iraqi government and people," he told the conference.

On the eve of the Stockholm conference, Iraq's majority Sunni political bloc said it had walked out of talks to re-join the government, dominated by Shi'ite Muslims and Kurds.

The Sunni Accord Front withdrew from the national unity government last August, in the belief that they were being marginalized in Iraqi politics.

The West is wary of Shi'ite Iran's influence in Iraq.

Mottaki said Thursday that Iran has been part of the solution in the region to the Iraqi crisis, not part of the crisis itself.

"We (Iran and Iraq) are neighbors. Stability in Iraq is stability for the region. Any insecure situation and instability in Iraq will affect the region as a whole," Mottaki told reporters after his speech.

In his speech, Mottaki blamed the "mistaken policies" of the U.S.-led coalition forces for failure in Iraq.

"Much to our regret, the developments which have taken place in Iraq up to this date have not only failed to reduce the common concern toward the future of Iraq and the oppressed people of this country, but they have also imparted graver dimensions to such concerns in certain respects," he said.


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