- (AFP) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi warned
US troops not to violate the "red line" of its border with Iraq,
and voiced alarm over a reported ceasefire deal between the US and the
Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen armed opposition group.
- Saying US forces on the border were "not a new phenomenon"
since the beginning of the war on Iraq, Kharazi added, "it is clear
that we are going to defend our frontiers; the red line passes along the
line of our borders."
- Kharazi also classed as "baseless" allegations
from Washington that Iranian agents were seeking to infiltrate Iraq to
push Shiite Muslim Iran's brand of Islamic government.
- The New York Times, citing US officials, reported that
Iran-trained agents were crossing into southern Iraq to promote friendly
- The unidentified officials told the daily that, based
on intelligence reports, some agents were members of the Badr Brigade,
the military wing of an Iraqi exile group operating from Iran, as well
as irregular members of a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
- But Kharazi dismissed Iranian infiltration of the Badr
Brigade, the armed wing of the Iran-based Supreme Assembly for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI).
- "The Badr Brigade is an Iraqi movement and does
not include any Iranian. Every Iraqi has the right to be in Iraq and play
a role in determining the future regime of Iraq," he asserted.
- "There is no Iranian interference in Iraq's internal
affairs," he added.
- Kharazi also voiced concern over a reported deal between
Washington and the Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen guerrillas -- officially
considered a "terrorist organisation" by the United States, the
European Union and Iran.
- "If this news that they can stay there and keep
their arms is correct, this will expose the Amercian's plans for the region
and it would be contrary to international law. The United States should
be responsible for this," Kharazi said at a joint press conference
with his French coupterpart Dominique de Villepin.
- The US military has confirmed it had reached a ceasefire
agreement with the Iranian armed opposition group, although a spokesman
for the group told AFP at their military base that the deal included allowing
the militia to keep its arms, stay in Iraq and continue its fight against
Iran's clerical regime.
- However, officials at the US Central Command war headquarters
in Qatar have repeatedly refused to comment on the Mujahedeen claim that
the ceasefire deal allows them to keep their arms.
- This has been seen as an early sign that Washington may
be looking to recast the mujahedeen -- which is believed to have thousands
of soldiers in Iraq -- as "freedom fighters".
- The movement was given sanctuary by Saddam Hussein in
1986 after being driven out of Iran in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
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