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Archive: July 2007
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Iran Factor
Ahmadinejad, Assad Slated to Discuss Regional, International Issues
07/15/2007 2:11 PM ET
This will be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's second visit to Syria since becoming Iran's president two years ago.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has visited Iran five times since he became president seven years ago.

Here's the report from the Iranian FARS news agency.

Iran Factor
Ahmadinejad Ready After US Allows Meeting With Iranian Detainees
07/10/2007 11:05 AM ET
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Expectations are rising that another meeting between Iranian and US representatives may be in the planning stages after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday signaled readiness for the second round.

This past weekend, the US military allowed an Iranian delegation to visit five Iranian detainees held since January, satisfying what is widely assumed to have been Ahmadinejad's requirement for a second diplomatic encounter between the two nations. The US contends the five detainees belong to the Quds force and were fomenting the insurgency, but Tehran claims they are diplomats who were seized from an Iranian consulate facility.

The meeting took place at a U.S. military facility in or near Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told The L.A. Times.

"We've been working on this for quite some time, to organize a consular visit for the Iranian Embassy to visit their detainees with the U.S. military," Zebari said. "I think it's a good gesture."

On Saturday morning, a U.S. military unit picked up Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, and two other diplomats at Iraq's Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, and took them to see the detainees, Zebari said.

"It was a courtesy extended by Multi-National Forces-Iraq in response to a request by the Iranian government," said U.S. Embassy spokesman Philip Reeker.

But Reeker said the visit did not indicate any progress had been made toward holding a second meeting between the United States and Iran.

But Monday, Ahmadinejad indicated newfound willingness for contact with the US: "We are ready to help preserve unity in Iraq ... and establish peace and security there," he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

"We did not reject the first round of talks ... The situation is the same now ... We are ready to help."

The head of Iraq's Supreme Islamic Council, Seyyed Abdul Aziz Hakim, currently in Tehran for medical treatment, also said on Monday that both Iran and the United States are ready for the second round of talks on Iraq's security, but they are waiting for an improvement in situations to reach better results.

"Both sides have had a positive evaluation of the first round of talks. As far as I am informed both sides are ready for the second round of talks," he said in an interview with ISNA.

The State Department has yet to officially acknowledge any change in tone from Iran, but did announce Monday morning that Secretary Rice would travel to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe July 16-20. Jerusalem and Ramallah are the only two scheduled stops in the Middle East, but trips into Iraq are rarely announced in advance.

Iran Factor
US Spokesman: Detainees Implicate Qods Force in Death of Five American Soldiers
07/02/2007 10:29 AM ET
Baghdad, IRAQ: A US solider shows a picture of Ali Mussa Daqduq (L) 02 July 2007 during a press conference at the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad.
Baghdad, IRAQ: A US solider shows a picture of Ali Mussa Daqduq (L) 02 July 2007 during a press conference at the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad.

Iran's covert Qods Force helped plan a brazen militant assault on US forces that killed five American troops in Karbala in January, according to a US military spokesman.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner told reporters in Baghdad Monday that detainees facing accusations of ordering the Karbala assault have confessed that senior operatives from Iran supported the attack.

According to Bergner, the militants said "senior leadership leading the Quds Force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers."

Bergner reported the connection was made by a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative, Ali Mussa Dakdouk, who was captured in southern Iraq on March 20. Bergner claimed Dakdouk served 24 years in Hezbollah and had gone to Iraq "as a surrogate for the Iranian Quds force."

According to Bergner, Dadouk served as a liaison between Iran and Qais al-Kazaali, a former spokesman for cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who now leads his own Shi'ite group. Bergner said al-Kazaali's group carried out the brazen Karbala attack when gunmen, disguised as Americans, tricked their way into a government compound, killing one U.S. soldier immediately and abducting and later killing four others.

Bergner said the attackers spoke English, wore American-looking uniforms and carried U.S.-style weapons, which helped get them through Iraqi checkpoints. Bergner blamed the sophistication of the attack on the Qods Force.

"The Qods Force had developed detailed information regarding our soldiers' activities, shift changes and defences, and this information was shared with the attackers," Bergner said.

Bergner also reported the US had discovered three small camps near Tehran where Qods Force and Hezbollah operatives were training between 20-60 Iraqi Shi'ite militants at any given time.

US commanders have previously accused Iran of financing and arming the Iraqi militants, but this was the first time they have alleged that Iranian officers had prior knowledge of the attack.


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