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12/12/04 - IRAN INTERFERENCE IN IRAQ - 2004-12-10

Iraqi interim president Ghazi al-Yawar says that Iran is pouring "huge amounts of money" into Iraq in the run-up to the elections scheduled for January 30th. "Unfortunately," he said, "time is proving and the situation is proving beyond any doubt that Iran has very obviously interfered in our business -- a lot of money, a lot of intelligence activities, and almost daily interference."

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. finds Iran's conduct in Iraq troubling:

"Clearly there is concern on our part about Iran's intentions, and Iran's activities, as they relate to Iraq's internal affairs, and those include interference in the electoral process. Whether it be with the elections, whether it be with insurgency, whether it be in terms of other political events in Iraq, we have been very outspoken in urging the government of Iran to live up [to] and honor its publicly stated policy of supporting the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national unity of Iraq."

Iraqi interim president al-Yawar says that he believes Iraqis will resist attempts by Iran to influence their choice of government. "We are depending on the merit of our Iraqi people in the south, most of whom are Shiites," he said. "The majority are skeptical of the Iranian role in Iraq."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says that despite Iran's attempt to influence the elections in Iraq, he sees no "great affection in the hearts of even religious Iraqis to duplicate the theocracy which exists in Iran. The majority of the people in Iraq, whether they're Shia or Sunni. . .do not want to have an Iranian-like state," says Mr. Armitage. "They want an Iraqi state, one that's true to Iraqi values."