Tuesday, July 06, 2004

: "Iraqi PM calls on Iran, Syria to back multi-national force in Iraq


DUBAI, July 5 (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi called on US foes Syria and Iran to support the multi-national forces in Iraq, one day after the two neighbourings countries called for foreign troops to quit the country.

'I think the brother presidents in Syria and Iran should revise (their position) in the interests of Iraq. Indeed, they should support the presence of the multi-national forces,' Allawi told Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television.

On Sunday, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, stood side-by-side to call for the rapid departure of foreign troops from Iraq.

'The solution is the quick end to the occupation, the installation of a government comprising all elements of the Iraqi people and the cooperation of the international community to bring stability and reconstruction,' Khatami said.

'We have always been in agreement with Iran on the need for Iraq's territorial integrity, a representative government and the departure of the occupying forces,' said Assad, on a two-day visit to the Islamic republic.

'In Iraq, there are no occupation forces. There are multi-nationals at the request of Iraq and the Iraqi government. Their presence is essential to maintain security,' Allawi told Al-Arabiya late Monday.

'The departure of these multi-national forces would be a catastrophe for Iraq at the moment,' he added.'My hope is that peace and stability will be re-established and that these countries (Iran and Syria) will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Iraq,' he said.

The United States has accused both Syria and Iran of supporting anti-coalition insurgents inside Iraq -- claims that both countries have strenously denied."

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