Archive for Monday, March 3, 2008

Iran’s president gets warm welcome in Iraq

March 3, 2008

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— Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday became the first Iranian head of state to visit Iraq in three decades and immediately became the focus of demonstrations that underscored Iraq's sectarian split.

In Fallujah, Sunni Muslim protesters demonstrated against his visit, calling him the killer of Iraqi children. Iraq's Sunni vice president showed up late for a reception for Ahmadinejad hosted by Iraq's Kurdish president.

Meanwhile, Iraq's Shiite ruling elite, many of whom had been taken refuge during Saddam Hussein's time in Shiite Iran, listened to Ahmadinejad without need of translation into Arabic, clearly comfortable hearing his Farsi.

American officials stayed far away from the visiting Iranian delegation. At a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, Ahmadinejad claimed that "Iraqis don't like Americans." Maliki didn't challenge the assertion.

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