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Al-Maliki reassures Tehran over pact with US
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His remarks were echoed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said on Sunday that he hopes the Iraqi government will successfully overcome the present sensitive situation.

"The oppressed Iraqi people have experienced very tough situation over the past decades ... the country is now experiencing a very sensitive situation," Ahmadinejad said in his meeting with al-Maliki in Tehran.

"But by relying on its powerful nation, the prospects for the country's leader and nation is very promising," he said, " Invaluable achievement will emerge after suffering hardship and this will double the sweetness of success."

All countries should spare no efforts to help the Iraqi government successfully overcome current situation, Ahmadinejad said, adding that Iraq's neighbors, friends as well as the United Nations should all help restore stability and security in Iraq, but the role of its neighbors is much heavier to the end.

As al-Maliki was visiting Iran to reassure Tehran over Baghdad's planned security agreement with Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said on Monday that US forces which might remain in Iraq in the future will not be used to attack Iran.

"US forces in Iraq will not be used for offensive operations against any of Iraq's neighbors," Whitman said, adding that "We are not seeking permanent military bases in Iraq."

During his visit, al-Maliki also met other senior Iranian officials, including Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, First Vice President Parviz Davoudi, Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Larijani and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Iran and Iraq fought a war between 1980 and 1988, but their ties have warmed considerably since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime in 2003. The first visit by an Iraqi Prime Minister to Iran since the US-led invasion was made by Maliki's predecessor Ibrahim al-Jaafari in July 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency June 10, 2008)

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