Iraq calls for Gulf security pact including Iran

Iraq's National Security Advisor on Sunday called on Gulf states to form a regional security pact, which would include Iran.

 Iraq calls for Gulf security pact including Iran
But Mouaffak al-Rubaie also criticised Saudi Arabia and Iran for what he called settling scores on Iraqi soil and called for regional reconciliation that put sectarian differences aside.

"It is extremely important to have a regional reconciliation rather than having this heightened sectarian tension in the region," he told delegates at a security conference held in the Bahraini capital Manama.

"That is why Iraq is looking seriously to call for a regional security pact like the good old (1954 anti-Soviet alliance) Baghdad Pact or a NATO-style pact, with a set agenda: counter terrorism, counter narcotics, counter religious extremism and counter sectarianism," he said.

The Iraqi official said security in the region was "indivisable. You cannot stabilise Iraq and destablise Iran, for example."

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi meanwhile agreed that Iran should be included in any regional security arrangement.

"It is our destiny to live with Iran... It is inevitable ... that we should work on regional arrangements that lead Iran to be a source of good to the region and not a source of harm," he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference, which Iran decided at the last minute not to attend.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had told participants on Saturday that Washington saw Tehran's foreign policies as a threat to the Middle East and all countries within the range of the missiles he said it was developing.

Rubaie meanwhile made it clear to the Sunni-dominated Gulf countries that Baghdad was set to strengthen its ties with the United States, in an apparent bid to dampen their concerns over the influence of Shiite Iran over the Iraqi govenment.

"A long term relationship of cooperation and friendship between Iraq and the United States of America will be a great relief for all the GCC countries and all the countires in the region. This is to ensure that the strategic direction of Iraq is very clear to everybody in the region," he said.

"We are heading West," he added.

"From where we sit in Baghdad and from an Iraqi prespective... we see competition turned into conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran on the soil of Iraq.

"Some of the regional countries are tempted to meddle in Iraqi internal affairs... Some... are helping in fuelling the sectarian conflicts and maintaining the political stagnation in my country," he said.

Rubaie's comments did not go unnoticed by the head of the Saudi delegation, who rejected the claim that the kingdom was competing with Tehran in Iraq.

"We do not compete with anyone, except for good and unity, mainly when it concerns a brotherly country (Iraq) that is a friend and a neighbour," said Prince Faisal bin Abdullah al-Saud, the deputy chief of Saudi General Intelligence.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Aralık 2007, 18:38
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