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Iraqi Vice President Snubs Visiting Iranian Former President


Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi has refused to meet with visiting former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Members of the vice president's Sunni-based Iraqi Islamic Party told reporters Wednesday the cancellation of a planned meeting was meant to send a message that Iran should stop interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.

The Arabic television network Al-Sharqiyah said the meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday and was arranged by Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Salih al-Haydari.

Al-Hashimi's party said Tuesday that Rafsanjani's visit is unwelcome. The party called on Iraq's government to investigate interference from Shi'ite majority Iran, which it said has pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

The French news agency said hundreds of Sunni tribal and religious leaders marched in the city of Ramadi Wednesday to protest Rafsanjani's visit.

Rafsanjani traveled Wednesday to the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala.

Rafsanjani, who heads Iran's influential Expediency Council, has met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki since his arrival on Monday.

The neighboring nations, both with majority Shi'ite populations, are rebuilding ties broken under the rule of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The current trip is focusing on Iranian help in boosting Iraq's devastated economy.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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