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Iraq, Iran Declare New Chapter of Friendly Relations

The presidents of Iraq and Iran have declared a new chapter in friendly relations, despite accusations of Iran interfering in Iraq. During the Iranian president's first visit to Iraq, the neighboring country leaders have said their renewed ties were an example for other nations in the region to follow. Daniel Schearf reports from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani welcomed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and both leaders hailed the visit as a new chapter in relations.

After a red carpet welcoming ceremony the two leaders held a meeting to discuss cooperation between Iran and Iraq.

Mr. Talabani told journalists this first visit by an Iranian leader since 1979 showed there were now good relations between their people.

He says during the meeting they talked about many fields for cooperation such as the economy, security, and oil. He says the results of the meeting were very good and the two countries' views on these issues were very similar.

Iran and Iraq were once bitter enemies and fought an eight-year war in the 1980s that killed about one million people.

More recently, Iran has been accused of supplying Shiite militia groups in Iraq with advanced weapons used to attack U.S. and Iraqi forces. Iran denies the charges.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iranian influence in Iraq has been growing.

During his visit the Iranian president stressed the shared culture and history between the two countries.

He says his visit will open a new page in relations and cooperation that will move the region forward.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. After the meeting, Mr. Maliki said the visit was a positive example that neighboring countries should follow.

He says the visit sends a positive message to Iraqis. He says Arabian countries should follow in Iran's steps to serve the people and offer better security for all countries in the region.

The landmark visit is one few to Iraq by a neighboring country leader. Iraq's Arab neighbors are reluctant to give diplomatic support to Baghdad for fear it might be construed as support for the U.S.-led military presence.

Also Sunday, the U.S. military reported capturing an insurgent leader and three of his men south of Baghdad. The statement said the men were suspected of leading attacks against U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces and were believed to have been trained in Iran.