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Iraqi official says Shaalan`s claims on Iran intervention in Iraq "baseless"

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Beirut, Jan 23, IRNA -- An official of the Iraqi Defense Ministry who 
has recently left the country brushed aside claims here Saturday by 
the Iraqi Interim Defense Minister Hazim al-Shaalan on Iran and 
Syria`s Intervention in Iraq`s internal affairs. 
The official, who asked not to be named, told IRNA that 
al-Shaalan`s intentions from uttering such assertions are to distract 
the public opinion inside and outside Iraq from his illegal and 
dubious actions. 
A principal activity of the Iraqi defense minister is to question 
he upcoming National Assembly election in Iraq and repatriate national
funds, he said. 
On the same issue a Lebanese weekly reported Saturday that 
al-Shaalan has transferred dlrs 500 million from Iraq Central Bank to 
Beirut. 
When the Lebanese security officials asked the holders of the 
funds at the Beirut`s airport as to the reason for the transfer of 
such a large sum, they produced a note by al-Shaalan saying that the 
money is be earmarked for purchase of weaponry for the Iraqi army. 
The Iraqi defense minister had several meetings with several 
high-ranking US military commanders as well as groups opposed to Iran 
including the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), the 
source added. 
He also quoted a Iraqi defense ministry official as saying that 
al-Shaalan had three extensive meetings with three high-ranking MKO 
leaders residing in Europe. 
He said that his decision to leave Iraqi defense ministry and not 
return to his country is his deep disagreement with al-Shaalan. 
He further rejected the accusation leveled by al-Shaalan on Ahmad 
Chalabi the Head of Iraqi National Congress as baseless, aimed at 
distraction and character assassination. 
"His aim is because Chalabi has asked for a probe in the theft of 
funds by al-Shaalan from Iraq Central Bank," the source said. 
The source also attributed al-Shaalan actions to his concern on 
his defeat in the elections against the competing poll roster, "Shia 
list.` 
Al-Shaalan has enlisted with the Iraqi Interim President`s list 
Ghazi al-Yawar. 
Iraqi National Assembly election are slated to be held on January 
30th. 
President Mohammad Khatami here in January termed as baseless 
allegations that Iran is interfering in Iraq`s internal affairs. 
Talking to reporters after the Majlis open-session in which he 
submitted his draft budget bill for the next year, he said Iran has 
repeatedly stressed that it looks at security and stability in Iraq as
those of its own. 
He said Iran has proven for many times that it is not for 
insecurity and instability in Iraq. 
He believed the objective behind raising such allegations against 
Iran was to pave the way for postponing the election in Iraq or 
holding it in a dim atmosphere. 
He said a popular election which will bring a government 
representing all Iraqi people and not merely a certain tribe or 
family branch which would expel foreign occupiers and absorb regional 
and international cooperation for reconstruction of Iraq would be an 
appropriate answer to such hollow remarks. 
Khatami said Iran was for security and stability of Iraq, holding 
a democratic election and establishment of an all-inclusive 
government there and also safeguarding its integrity while having 
friendly relations with it. 
He expressed his hope that Iraq, which has now turned into a den 
which originates murders and crimes, will be a center of security and 
stability for the whole region in the future. 
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