Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took another series of swipes at the Bush administration Monday, telling the "foreigners" who'd traveled thousands of miles that it was time to go home so that Iran and Iraq could develop their "brotherly connections."
"Foreigners" were the cause of Iraq's "ruin" and had evoked only hatred from Iraqis, Ahmadinejad said before departing Baghdad on Monday.
"The presence of foreigners in the region has been to the detriment of the nations of the region," he said. "It is nothing but a humiliation to the regional nations," an apparent reference to his own country, which is Persian, not Arab, and considered foreign by many Arabs.
The Iranian leader avoided mentioning the United States by name but left no doubt about the target of his ire. "We believe the forces that came from overseas and traveled thousands of kilometers to reach here must leave the region, and must hand over responsibility to the people of the region," he said.
The above is from Leila Fadel's "Ahmadinejad: Foreigners to blame for Iraq's problems" (McClatchy Newspapers) and the Iranian president's visit (which began on Sunday) is the bulk of today's coverage. Liz Sly (Chicago Tribune) reports:
During his visit, the first by an Iranian president since the Islamic revolution of 1979, Ahmadinejad was feted by Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish leaders. Even the Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, turned up to greet him, though he was an hour late.
In addition to the $1 billion loan, the two countries negotiated seven deals on economic and cultural cooperation. In a statement on his Web site, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the two sides also reached an agreement "to secure their borders ... to prevent infiltration of terrorists and smugglers."
Borzou Daragahi's "Visiting Iranian leader suggests U.S. leave Iraq" (Los Angeles Times) observes the press conference:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiled for the cameras.
At ease, he parried with reporters, sitting alone at a simple table Monday inside the Iraqi presidential compound here. The visiting Iranian patiently called on raised hands without even the benefit of a host, like a benevolent schoolteacher conversing with his students.
Here was a question about U.S. accusations of Iranian meddling in Iraq.
"We discussed with the Iraqi side the issues that serve the interests of the two countries," he said. "We are not committed to answer the demands of others."
Here was another about whether Shiite Muslim Iran would cultivate ties with Iraq's Sunni groups as well as with the Shiite political parties and Kurdish militias it once sheltered and nurtured to fight Saddam Hussein's regime.
"Our relations with all the factions in Iraq are good," he said. "This [distinction] may be important for the foreigners. But we view things differently."
Through tone and body language, Ahmadinejad's message during his historic two-day visit was clear. The United States does not belong in Iraq; Iran does. Iran can and will help in the reconstruction of Iraq, a point underscored by the signing of seven memorandums of understanding between the two countries.
Solomon Moore and Mudhafer Al-Husaini offer the sort of account the New York Times is known for so let's insted focus on the violence from their "Iran President, in Baghdad, Calls for U.S. to Leave" and remember, as you read about the attack on journalists, that puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, in his now-forgotten but praised in the summer of 2006 'plan' was calling for restricting the press so that attitude comes from the top:
In the most deadly attack, which killed at least 15 people, a car bomb exploded in Bab al Muadham, a busy neighborhood in central Baghdad, as an Iraqi Army convoy passed by. Hadi Abdul Ridha Abdullah, 45, a guard at a nearby telephone exchange facility, said that he had seen someone driving an American-made sport utility vehicle that exploded when Iraqi Army Humvees rolled past.
"One of the guards with me was on the ground a few feet away and was bleeding badly," Mr. Abdullah said, weeping. "He died later. I even saw people burning inside their trucks and asking for help. But nobody could reach them."
In a separate bombing in eastern Baghdad, a man driving a pickup truck blew it up at an Iraqi police checkpoint, killing three officers.
Jittery Iraqi troops and police officers fired warning shots at cars that tried to approach the blast site. Iraqi soldiers attacked a group of Iraqi and American journalists as they photographed the area. Five soldiers stomped on an Iraqi journalist with their combat boots as he lay on the ground, reporters there said. They said that he cried, "Why are you doing this?" and added, "I am an Iraqi too!"
Iraqi soldiers confiscated the cameras of many Iraqi journalists at the scene. When they tried to do the same with a photographer for The New York Times, American soldiers intervened and prevented the Iraqi soldiers from arresting his bodyguard.
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