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. 2324/1432
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