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Iran denies military involvement in Iraq
Iran denied on Sunday reports alleging the Islamic republic sent troops to Iraq to fight insurgents from the Islamic State group, while calling for regional and global cooperation to eliminate the extremist Sunni militant group that has seized and now rules large areas of Iraq and Syria.
"We are on the side of our Iraqi brothers from all sects Kurdish, Sunnis and Shia who are fighting terrorism, but we do not believe that they need the presence of Iranian soldiers in order to do this task," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Sunday in a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Zarif also said that his visit to Iraq reflected Iran's support for the country in its fight against terrorism. Iraq has been battling various insurgent groups for years, however, in the last couple of months the Islamic State militant group has made great advances by storming cities abandoned by Iraqi soldiers, prompting international concern and outrage.
"We are confronting this group in Iraq and Syria because this group is not against a certain ethnicity, sect or a country. It is against the whole region, as well as international peace and security, and needs a coordinated action," Zarif said.
The Islamic State "is committing acts of horrendous genocide and crimes against humanity and needs to be tackled by the international community and by every country in the region," he added.
Earlier this month, the Islamic State stormed towns in northern Iraq, threatening and executing numerous members of Iraq's religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis.
Iran supports the Prime Minister designate Haider al-Abadi, Zarif said, stressing that his country "respects whoever is elected by the Iraqi people."
Iraq's foreign minister echoed Zarif, saying that a "new reality has been created in the region due the terrorist acts of the Islamic State. We are happy because the whole world seemed to feel the seriousness of this ideology (of Islamic State).
Earlier in the day, Zarif met with the top Iraqi officials, including caretaker Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Prime Minister designate Haider al-Abadi and the Parliament Speaker Salim al- Jubouri.
In a statement by Abadi's office, the prime minister designate told the visiting Iranian minister that the region is threatened by the presence of the Islamic State and that cooperation with Iran was essential.
Iraq and Iran fought a bloody eight-year war in 1980s, resulting in the loss of one million lives.
However, relations between the Shiite Muslim country of Iran and the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq were strengthened considerably after Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime was ousted in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
[Source: Xinhua, Baghdad, 24Aug14]
War in Iraq
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