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Iran's Supreme Leader Criticizes U.S. Presence in Iraq
    2008-06-10 16:09:57     CRIENGLISH.com
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday that the presence of U.S.-led forces in Iraq is the country's fundamental problem.

His remarks came as the United States is pressuring Baghdad to sign an agreement that would allow U.S. soldiers in the country to stay after Dec. 31, when their UN mandate expires.

Iraqi critics of the agreement said it means Iraq will be a client state in which the United States will keep more than 50 military bases and American soldiers will enjoy legal immunity.

Iran, which fiercely opposes the agreement expected to be signed by midsummer, has always called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Moreover, Khamenei also voiced hope that al-Maliki's visit to Tehran will further strengthen the unbreakable ties between the two countries.

The Iraqi prime minister, for his part, thanked Iran's unconditional helps to the Iraqi people and wished Baghdad will enjoy the best relationship with Tehran.

"Definitely, this trip was a step towards accomplishing the two countries' goals. We hope that the agreements we reached upon within this visit will become operational in the near future."

The two countries signed various letters of agreement, including military cooperation pacts.

Al-Maliki arrived in Tehran on Saturday evening for a three-day visit, the third one since he took office two years ago.
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