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FM condemns storming of Iranian consulate in Iraq by US forces

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, Jan 11, IRNA
Iran-Iraq-FM /POL/
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini here on Thursday said US President George W Bush's new strategy for Iraq announced Wednesday was intended to continue the US occupation of that country.

Condemning the new strategy, he said Bush's decision to increase the number of its troops in Iraq comes as "an unpleasant present to the American people for the new Christian year."

Bush's decision to increase the number of US military troops in Iraq will only result in further insecurity and tension in that occupied country, he said, adding that an increase in troops will not solve the Iraqi problem.

Alluding to Bush's accusations of Iranian and Syrian interference in Iraq's domestic affairs, the spokesman said Washington was seeking pretexts for its failed policies in the country.

He said an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would be the only way of solving the US' numerous problems in that country.

He said Washington's decision to deploy Patriot missiles over Iraq is intended to bolster its support for the Zionist regime purportedly to protect the Islamic state. "We and all world Muslims condemn such a move," Hosseini added.

He further criticized the appointment of a coordinator for Iraqi affairs by Bush as an indication of Washington's open interference in Iraqi domestic affairs.

In other developments, US forces raided the Iranian consulate in the Iraqi northern city of Erbil, arrested its five staff members and confiscated computers and documents early Thursday morning.

Erbil, a main city in the Kurdish-controlled north of Iraq, is 350 kilometers (220 miles) from Baghdad.

The Iranian embassy in Baghdad has sent a letter of protest to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry for the illegal move.

It has called on the Iraqi government to help obtain the immediate release of its five detained staff.

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