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Iran, Iraq to OK Military Pact, Including Troop Training Help

From Reuters

Former foes Iran and Iraq said Thursday that they would sign a military cooperation agreement that would include Iranian help in training Iraq’s armed forces, despite likely U.S. opposition.

The agreement marks a breakthrough in relations between the two countries, which fought a bitter 1980-88 war. And it comes in spite of repeated U.S. accusations that Shiite Muslim Iran has undermined security in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003.

“It’s a new chapter in our relations with Iraq. We will start wide defense cooperation,” Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said at a news conference with his visiting Iraqi counterpart, Saadoun Dulaimi.

“We’re going to form some committees which will be involved in mine clearance, identifying those missing from the war and also ... to help train, rebuild and modernize the Iraqi army.”

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Iran last year offered to train Iraqi border guards, but Iraq declined the offer. Relations have steadily improved since Iraq’s Shiite majority sealed its political dominance in elections this year.

A large Iraqi government delegation, headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, is to visit Tehran next week.

Dulaimi said Iran had offered $1 billion in aid to show its support for Iraq’s quest for postwar recovery. He did not give further details.

Asked about possible U.S. opposition, Shamkhani said, “No one can prevent us from reaching an agreement.”

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