Iran to expand military and economic ties with Iraq; will reconstruct nation

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The flag of Iraq.
Flag of Iran

Iran has announced that the country plans to expand its military and economic ties with Iraq, and that there are plans to build a branch of the Iranian Nation Bank in downtown Baghdad.

Hassan Kazemi Qumi, Iran's ambassador to Baghdad has stated to The New York Times that the country plans to reconstruct Iraq and offer military training and supplies to the Iraqi military force for "the security fight." Qumi said the United States failed in the reconstruction of Iraq.

"We have experience of reconstruction after war. We are ready to transfer this experience in terms of reconstruction to the Iraqis," said Qumi.

In a first public statement, Qumi said that 2 Iranian men who were captured inside Iraq by U.S. forces and then later freed, were indeed part of the Iranian security force, which is in accordance with what the U.S. had always thought. Qumi, however, denied that the men were doing anything illegal, and were in fact in Iraq to conduct "legitimate" talks with the government of Iraq and they "should not have been detained" by U.S. forces.

"They worked in the security sector in the Islamic Republic, that’s clear," added Qumi.

In regards to opening an Iranian Nation Bank in Baghdad, Qumi stated that a license has been granted and issued to the government of Iran to allow a bank to be built in Baghdad. Hussein al-Uzri, a senior official for Iraq's national bank confirmed that a license has been issued and that "[the bank] will enhance trade between the two countries." Qumi says that several more banks will follow including agricultural banks and private banks.

In regards to cooperating through the economy, Qumi states that electricity and kerosene will be supplied to Iraq and that agriculture cooperatives will also be built.

Qumi states that he will not reveal "specific details" of military operations or plans in Iraq, but did say that border patrols along the Iran-Iraq border will increase and that a "joint security committee" will also be formed.

The U.S. has not commented directly on Qumi's statement, but a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, Sean McCormack, says that any Iranian influence or activity in Iraq is "a negative role in many respects."