November 22, 2005

Khamenei urges Iraqis to tell occupiers to go

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei urged visiting Iraqi officials on Tuesday to ask
U.S.-led forces to leave their country and pledged Tehran's
cooperation in restoring security to Iraq.

Khamenei's meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the
first Iraqi leader to visit Iran for nearly four decades,
underscored improving relations between two countries who
fought a grueling 1980-1988 war in which hundreds of thousands

U.S. and British officials have often accused Iran of
meddling in Iraq's affairs by arming militant groups.

But Khamenei said violence in Iraq was the fault of the
U.S.-led forces who are there.

"Iran considers the United States to be responsible for all
crimes and terrorist acts in Iraq and the suffering and misery
of the Iraqi people," he said, according to state television.

"The Iraqi people may ask the occupiers to leave Iraq by
setting a timetable for them ... In the end, Iraq and its
neighbors will remain in this region while the U.S. will only
be there temporarily," he said.

Khamenei said accusations that Iran was undermining
security in Iraq were baseless and propagated by those who did
not want to see improved ties between the two countries.

"Your security is our own security and Iran honors Iraq's
independence and power," the official IRNA news agency quoted
him as saying. "We will extend assistance to you in those
fields," he added.