British Official Warns Iran Not to Meddle in Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore

Iran shouldn't meddle in Iraqi affairs, Great Britain's top defense official said here Monday. Appearing at a Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, British Secretary of State for Defense John Reid was asked by a reporter if he was concerned about reports of Iranian-sponsored interference in Iraq, specifically that Iran-based elements were actively aiding insurgent forces.

Reid said there's no evidence at present that Iran-based terror groups are responsible for improvised-explosive device-attacks on British forces serving in Iraq.

However, Reid added, "It is our belief that the nature of the devices being used against British troops and possibly elsewhere in Iraq in recent months bear the hallmark of groups like Hezbollah and may well be connected with elements within Iran."

Hezbollah, called "Party of God" by its adherents, was established in Lebanon in 1982. Hezbollah employs terror tactics and is known to receive support from Iran. Hezbollah is blamed for the 1983 bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon.

Reid said his government has informed the Iranians about its concerns that Iranian-based groups may be committing acts of terrorism against British forces in Iraq.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has also cited Iran for being disingenuous concerning its nuclear capabilities, Reid said.

Countries that share a border with Iraq, including Syria and Iran, should not sponsor terrorist operations inside Iraq or anywhere else, Reid said.

Meanwhile, the British government will take necessary steps to protect its troops serving in Iraq, Reid said.

Rumsfeld told reporters that U.S., other coalition and Iraqi security forces are now engaged against insurgents operating in western Iraq near the Syrian border. Suspected insurgents are being captured and killed, he said, and enemy weapons caches are being found thanks to the help of local Iraqis.

That offensive, Operation Steel Curtain, will likely prove unhelpful to the insurgency and its operations within the border region between Iraq and Syria, Rumsfeld said.

"We hope that anyone on the borders with Iraq -- whether it is Syria, Iran or anyone else -- will desist and make sure that no one is supporting terrorism inside Iraq or, indeed, anywhere else," Reid added.

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British Defense Secretary Says Terror
Attacks in Iraq May Have Iranian Links

By Lisa Ferdinando

WASHINGTON (VOA) -- British Defense Secretary John Reid says recent terrorists attacks in Iraq may have links to elements in Iran.

Defense Secretary Reid, who made the comment Monday at the Pentagon with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, said recent strikes against coalition troops in Iraq also have similarities with methods used by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

" It is our belief that the nature of the devices being used against British troops and possibly elsewhere in Iraq in recent months bear the hallmark of groups like Hezbollah and may well be connected with elements within Iran," he said.

He did not elaborate, but said officials do not have evidence that the Iranian government is involved. He said the situation is nevertheless "worrying."

Iran and Hezbollah have previously rejected similar claims.

A top British official, Major General James Dutton, said last week that sophisticated technology and explosives are moving into Iraq from Iran, making improvised explosive devices more deadly.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld pledged to stay the course in Iraq until the mission is complete. He said troop reduction depends on the security situation. "As conditions on the ground there permit and require, obviously the commanders on the ground will recommend that coalition forces and U.S. forces pare down as responsibility is transferred over to Iraqis, and it's been being transferred over to Iraqis in recent months," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld also said pulling out of Iraq or even Afghanistan early would lead to what he called "greater danger later."

Britain, the United States' staunchest ally in the war in Iraq, has some 8,500 troops deployed in southern Iraq.

'We Will See the Job Through,' British Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore

The United States, Great Britain and the United Nations remain steadfast in seeing democracy established in Iraq despite continued insurgent violence, Britain's senior defense official said.

"The litmus test of leadership is not when things are easy or fashionable, but when times are difficult and we have to come through them towards the objective in the end," British Secretary of State for Defense John Reid told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing.

Resolution 1546, adopted by the U.N. Security Council on June 8, 2004, demonstrates that the mission to establish a democratic Iraqi government bears U.N. endorsement, Reid said.

"This is now sanctioned by, inspired by, protected by the United Nations," Reid said. "It is the world community which is now on the side of the Iraqi democrats, which is supporting their quest for self-determination under Resolution 1546."

Regarding events in Iraq, the question before the world is quite simple, Reid said.

"Either we will see democracy in Iraq destroyed by the terrorists," he said, "or we will see it built by Iraqis themselves."

Reid said British, American and other coalition troops will be in Iraq as long as it takes to prepare the new Iraqi democracy to stand on its own feet against threats.

"We will see the job through," Reid said. Continued acts of terrorism committed inside Iraq will only strengthen U.S.-British resolve to stay until the insurgents are defeated, he noted.

Meanwhile, American, British and other coalition forces continue to transfer more security duties to Iraqi forces, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who accompanied Reid at the news briefing, told reporters.

"And the people of Iraq continue to meet the political milestones that they have established," Rumsfeld said. Two Iraqi elections were successfully held Jan. 30 and Oct. 15. Another Iraqi election to select new general assembly members is slated for December.

As Iraqis make gains on the political front, Rumsfeld said, senior U.S., other coalition and Iraqi commanders will continue to assess the security situation across the country and make appropriate adjustments to force posture.

It's paramount that terrorists in Iraq are beaten before they become more powerful and emboldened to launch new attacks across the globe, Rumsfeld said.

"We are firm in the conviction that leaving before the job is done in either Afghanistan or Iraq as the terrorists hope would lead to even greater danger later," Rumsfeld said.