Iran welcomes US pullout, urges punishment for Iraq invaders
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 01, 2010, 20:46
Tehran: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq but called for punishment of the invaders, state television's Arabic-language Al-Alam channel said on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad "welcomed the pullout of US forces from Iraq but said that those behind the invasion of this country should be put on trial and punished before an international court," the channel reported.

If US President Barack "Obama wants to do something useful, he should pledge not to interfere in Iraq, take his forces out of Iraq and recognise Iraq's independence and punish criminals," the channel quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in an interview.

"The terrorists use the presence of US forces and their crimes as a pretext. If there are no crimes, they will not have any excuses for extremism and terrorism," the hardline president added.

Late on Tuesday, Obama announced the formal end of the US combat mission in Iraq. US troop numbers in the country are now down to less than 50,000 and their mission is restricted to training and counterterrorism.

Shiite Iran has enjoyed warm relations with the Shiite-led governments in Baghdad ushered in by the overthrow of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime in the US-led invasion of 2003.

But it has been unnerved by the presence of US troops on both its western and eastern borders -- in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and has repeatedly called for their complete withdrawal.

On Tuesday, the Iranian foreign ministry dismissed as "unacceptable" the continued US troop presence in Iraq.


First Published: Wednesday, September 01, 2010, 20:46

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