Posted by Esperanza from 66-52-14-42.lsan.dial.netzero.com (188.8.131.52) on Saturday, February 08, 2003 at 3:24PM :
US met with Iranians on war plans: Report
8 February 2003
WASHINGTON - Bush administration officials held a rare private meeting with Iranian envoys in Europe last month to seek a pledge of humanitarian help and an assurance that the Tehran government would not interfere in military operations if the United States goes to war against Iraq, the Washington Post reported in Saturday editions. US diplomats also asked Iran to join search-and-rescue missions for downed US air crews, the Post quoted officials as saying.
They further requested that the Iranian government deny haven to fleeing Iraqis who might try to cross into Iran and regroup against a US-supported government in Baghdad, the paper said. A State Department spokesman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
A senior administration official was quoted by the Post as saying the White House hoped the Iranians “will stay out of the way” if US-led forces topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in favor of a pro-Western government.
US and UN officials report that signals from Tehran have been “encouraging,” although the Iraan government opposes military action, the Post said.
The overture to Iran, a member of what President Bush called an “axis of evil” along with Iraq and North Korea, demonstrated the extent of the administration’s efforts to line up support in the Gulf for an increasingly likely war against Iraq.
Bush has condemned the politics of the Tehran government but is seeking its cooperation as agreements with Iraqi neighbors Turkey and Jordan on possible Iraq war scenarios fall into place.
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