Bush warns Iran over Iraq involvement
US President Bush said Monday "we will respond firmly" if Tehran escalates its military actions in Iraq and threatens American forces or Iraqi citizens. The White House voiced skepticism about Iran's plans to greatly expand its economic and military relations with Iraq. The United States has accused Iran of supporting terrorism in Iraq and supplying weapons to kill US troops.
"If Iran escalates its military actions in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and - or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly," Bush said in an interview with National Public Radio.
The US leader's remarks reinforced earlier statements from the White House. "If Iran wants to quit playing a destructive role in the affairs of Iraq and wants to play a constructive role, we would certainly welcome that," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, according to The AP. But, he said, "We've seen little evidence to date (of constructive activities) and frankly all we have seen is evidence to the contrary."
Iran's plans in Iraq were outlined by Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi in an interview with The New York Times. According to him, Iran was ready to offer Iraqi government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called "the security fight," the newspaper reported. He said that in the economic field, Iran was prepared to assume major responsibility for the reconstruction of Iraq.
"We have experience of reconstruction after war," the ambassador was quoted as saying. "We are ready to transfer this experience in terms of reconstruction to the Iraqis."