Iraqi Speaker Comments On Protests, Syria

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Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called for the cancelation of visas between Iran and Iraq while on a visit to the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, as protests continue against Iranian influence elsewhere in Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called yesterday [Mar. 4] for the cancellation of entry visa requirements between Iraq and Iran. Politicians said Salehi's call is a response to the protesters in Mosul, Anbar, Fallujah, Samarra and Tikrit who are protesting against Iranian interference in Iraq's affairs.

Speaking at a news conference in the holy city of Najaf after meeting with a number of the city's religious authorities, Salehi said that the meetings tackled the common issues that are of interest to everyone, such as developments in the region, especially the situation in Syria, as well as the bilateral relations between Iran and Iraq and ways to expand them.

Salehi had said at Najaf airport that he will discuss the Iraq crisis during this visit, but also added that Iraqis are capable of solving their problems.

Salehi added that these relations are blossoming and that this can be seen given the number of Iranian pilgrims who are coming to Iraq and the Iraqi visitors who are going to Iran, calling for the abolition of visas between the two countries so that the two peoples can visit holy sites easily.

Concerning the measures taken by the seven member committee set up to follow up the demands of the Iraqi demonstrators in Mosul, Osama al-Nujaifi, speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq, said the government's response to these demands was marginal.

Nujaifi said that he does not believe that the government took the necessary measures to satisfy the demands of the demonstrators. Moreover, he added, it did not abide by its commitments concerning the implementation of these demands. The achievements of the deputy prime minister Hussain al-Shahristani's commission, he added, are simple and not up to the level of the real demands of the demonstrators. Meanwhile, parliamentary sources said that the committee headed by Shahristani and set up by the Iraqi government to examine the demands of the protesters in Mosul, Anbar and other Iraqi cities has split because the ruling National Alliance refused to amend the de-Baathification law and return the confiscated properties to the people who were subject to this law.

The sources said that the Iraqi List supports the amendment and that the National Alliance is against it. The committee had announced the release of male and female detainees who are still in government prisons and whose number does not exceed dozens, out of hundreds of thousands of prisoners.

Nujaifi tackled in his press conference the clashes witnessed at the Yaarabiya (Rabia) border crossing, adding that an investigation will take place on this issue and that we will have a position once the situation is fully clear.

He called on the Iraqi army to be neutral, not side with any party and not get involved in any dispute with any party, saying that Iraq has severe internal crises.

Nujaifi said that what happened in the area of Yaarabiya is an internal issue between Syrian factions, stressing that the area in which the incident took place has Arab tribes living on both sides of its border, and that any friction would cause tension in the whole region.

Nujaifi tackled the differences over the draft law of the federal budget for the current year and expressed optimism that its approval is drawing near, noting that the parliament sessions will continue until the approval of this budget and that there will not be any holiday before the voting takes place.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Council of Representatives failed yesterday [Mar. 4] for the sixth time to vote on the controversial federal budget of 2013 due to lack of quorum.

The council decided to postpone its meeting until Wednesday [Mar. 6] amid expectations that the budget will be returned to the government.

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Found in: syrian crisis, security, protests, iraqi politics, iraq, iranian-iraqi relations, ali akbar salehi
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