Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Rumsfeld Says People of Iraq better off today with Help From Iran

Channelnewsasia.com: "Iran fuelling Iraqi insurgency with people and money: Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON : US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview Iran was fuelling the insurgency in Iraq with people and money, but that international will was lacking to press Tehran to stop its meddling.

"They have put people in there. They have put money in there," Rumsfeld told The Washington Times.

"By 'they,' I'm not going to say which element of the government or whether it's even known to the government. But money has come in from Iran. People have come in from Iran. And it's a very difficult thing to stop," he said.

"Iran is a country that is not part of the civilized world in terms of its behavior."

When asked if Iran was funding radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr, Rumself said, "There's a lot of speculation to that effect."

Rumsfeld said the United States found it difficult to convince other countries to pressure Teheran to stay out of Iraq.

"The problem of proliferation and the problem of terror and the problem of dealing with a country that's separated itself from the civilized community is that those are the kind of things that require the cooperation of a lot of countries," he said.

"And when you have countries of the world that are not willing to participate in an organized effort to try to persuade a country to behave in a civilized way, it encourages them simply to continue on its merry way. And that's a problem," Rumsfeld said.

Hours before the US death toll in Iraq surpassed 1,000, Rumsfeld on Tuesday told a press conference that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan were better off today than a year ago, but to expect more attacks on US forces to intensify as elections it gets closer to elections in both countries.

"It's a tough, difficult business," Rumsfeld said. "On the other hand, the people of Iraq today and Afghanistan are so much better off today than they were a year ago, in every conceivable respect."

He also emphasized the world faced a global struggle against Muslim extremism, pointing to the bloody hostage-taking at a Russian school that left hundreds dead, many of them children.

"There are really no free passes in this struggle, this war. There are no free passes for countries. There are really no free passes for individuals," Rumsfeld said.

"And for that reason the civilized world has to stay on the offensive. And that's exactly what the coalition is doing," he said. - AFP"

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