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Iran urges new Iraqi govt to end occupation

By Super

Tehran, Apr 26: Iran's president urged newly appointed Iraqi Prime Minister Jawad al-Maliki to form a new government that would end the US occupation of Iraq, the official IRNA news agency said today.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the comments in a telephone call to congratulate Maliki on his appointment.

Maliki has four weeks to form a government of national unity, widely seen as the only way to halt sectarian violence.

The United States accuses Iran fuelling of sectarian violence in Iraq, a charge dismissed by Tehran, which says the presence of US troops is to blame.

''The formation of (Iraq's) new government must pave the way for the exit of the occupiers,'' Ahmadinejad said in the telephone conversation, IRNA reported.

US President George W Bush has said American troops will not withdraw until Iraqi security forces are able to take over.

Iran and Iraq fought a bloody war from 1980-88 and, until Saddam Hussein was toppled by the US invasion in 2003, had a frosty relationship.

''The Iranian nation will support the Iraqi people and Iraq's popular government,'' Ahmadinejad said.

Iranian and US officials have said they would hold talks to discuss Iraq, but no date has been set and on Monday Ahmadinejad said such a meeting was not necessary now that the Iraqi government was being formed.

Both sides had said any such talks would only cover Iraq, although some analysts said it could open a conduit for discussion of other issues, particularly the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.


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