Ahmadinejad: U.S. Should Leave Iraq

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday blew off U.S. accusations that his country is training extremists and demanded that American forces leave Iraq.

In what's being called a 'historic visit' Ahmadinejad met with Iraqi leaders, saying afterwards in an almost hour-long news conference that the U.S.'s allegations were of no concern to Iranians.

"Of course American officials make such remarks and such statements, and we do not care. because they make statements on the basis of erroneous information," said the hard-line Iranian leader, who smiled through much of the session. "We cannot count on what they say."

He said the foreign presence in Iraq was an "insult to the regional nations and a humiliation."

The two nations have been bitter enemies since Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980. That war led to the deaths of more than one million people.

Iraq's Sunnis say that rivalry is still going on, with Iran funding violent Shiite militias in Iraq.

Roughly 1,000 Iraqis in a Sunni-dominated Baghdad neighborhood protested Ahmadinejad's visit Monday, one day after scattered demonstrations met his arrival. "Your mortars preceded your visit," one placard read.

Many analysts believe that, long-term, the two countries are destined to be rivals for regional power.

But for now, Iraq's President Jalal Talabani hopes this visit will open a "new page" of friendly relations between the two countries.

In spite of his anti-U.S. rhetoric, Ahmadinejad did not rule out further talks between Iran and the U.S. The two sides have had three rounds of discussions, brokered by Iraq, with another due to be scheduled by the middle of the month.

Source: The Associated Press

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