Saturday, July 09, 2005

Former foes Iran, Iraq start military cooperation

International News Article | Reuters.com: "Former foes Iran, Iraq start military cooperation
Thu Jul 7, 2005 5:08 AM ET

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Former foes Iran and Iraq said on Thursday they would sign a military cooperation agreement which will include Iranian help in training Iraq's armed forces.

The agreement marks a considerable advance in relations between the two countries who fought a bitter 1980-1988 war and comes despite repeated U.S. accusations that Iran has undermined security in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"It's a new chapter in our relations with Iraq. We will start wide defense cooperations," Iranian Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani told a joint news conference with visiting Iraqi counterpart Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

"We're going to form some committees which will be involved in mine clearance, identifying those missing from the war and also ... to help train, rebuild and modernise the Iraqi army."

Iran last year offered to train Iraqi border guards, but Iraq frostily declined the offer.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have often accused non-Arab Iran of stirring up instability in Iraq. Tehran denies meddling in Iraq or helping arms and foreign fighters cross its borders.

Asked about possible U.S. opposition to Iran-Iraq military cooperation, Shamkhani said: "No one can prevent us from reaching an agreement."

Iraq's al-Dulaimi echoed Shamkhani's comments.

"Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries," he said."

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