Iran warns Iraq over prolonged presence of US forces

March 1st, 2009 - 4:40 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaTehran, March 1 (DPA) Iran’s supreme leader Saturday warned Iraq over the prolonged presence of US forces in that country, the Iranian media reported.
“The occupiers are preparing grounds for a long and enduring presence in Iraq and this is a big danger of which the Iraqi officials should be aware,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

US President Barack Obama announced Friday that he will withdraw most US combat troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010, sharply reducing the American presence but keeping in place thousands of soldiers to support and train Iraqi forces.

“The occupying military forces (US) should withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible as even a one-day delay would be to Iraq’s disadvantage,” said Ayatollah Khamenei, who in line with the Iranian constitution has the final say on all state affairs.

“It is rather to Iraq’s advantage to oppose the demands by the aliens as they are also against close ties between Iraq and Iran,” Khamanei added.

There are presently more than 140,000 US troops in Iraq. Obama plans to keep about 35,000 to 50,000 soldiers to help train and equip the Iraqis and participate in special counterterrorism missions. The pace of the withdrawal is to be determined by the commanders on the ground.

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