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Chalabi says Iraq must tackle foreign militants

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Iraq must do more to stop the country being used as a base for foreign militants seeking to destabilise its neighbours, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi said in comments published on Monday.

In an interview with Britain’s Financial Times, Chalabi acknowledged Iran’s "legitimate concern" about Mujahedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group operating in Iraq which the United States lists as a terrorist organisation.

He said there were also concerns in Turkey over bases in northern Iraq operated by the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

"We should enforce the article in our constitution that Iraq should not be a transit point or base for destabilising neighbours," Chalabi told the newspaper. "We should deal with these issues humanely and fairly, but firmly."

Turkish leaders complain the PKK has a safe-haven in the mountains of northern Iraq from where rebel commanders direct operations into Turkey.

After more than 20 years of conflict, Turkish forces have failed to completely quell the PKK’s armed campaign for home-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

On Iran, Chalabi said Tehran had agreed to study his proposal for an inquiry by British, Iranian and Iraqi representatives into recent violence in the southern city of Basra.

Chalabi said Britain raised tension in the area by accusing Iran of helping Iraq militants to plant roadside bombs which killed British troops.

He added that Iran also inflamed the situation with allegations of British backing for militant Arab separatists in south-west Iran, according to the FT report.

November 7, 2005

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