Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Australian: Iran 'worked to moderate Sadr' [November 24, 2004]

The Australian: Iran 'worked to moderate Sadr' [November 24, 2004]: "Iran 'worked to moderate Sadr'
From correspondents in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
November 24, 2004
IRAN worked to moderate the stance of an Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia launched two uprisings against US-led forces this year, Iran's foreign minister said today.

The US has accused Iran of destabilising Iraq through support for Sadr.

"We have tried to help him (Sadr) adopt more moderate approaches and to cooperate with Ayatollah Sistani," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is Iraq's most revered Shiite leader. Shiites are the majority of Iraq's population and were long oppressed by Saddam Hussein, a Sunni.

European officials have said Iran has taken a more conciliatory attitude towards US aims in Iraq compared with eastern neighbour Syria.

Speaking after an two day international conference on Iraq, Mr Kharrazi also said Iran was ready to work with Iraqis to secure the two states' shared border for the benefit of both countries.

"Iran has been ready to establish a committee for border security with Iraqis to not only protect the border between Iraq and Iran from the Iranian side but also from the Iraqi side.

"There are terrorist organisations stationed in Iraq who try to infiltrate Iranian territory," he said.

Iran cut relations with Egypt after the Arab world's most populous country signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Mr Kharrazi said recent improvements in ties between the two countries had come to a halt.

"Some time ago that (relations with Egypt) was moving well but it has suddenly stopped. If they (Egypt) are interested in removing barriers and establishing full relations, Iran will certainly be ready to do that," he said without giving further details."

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