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Bush Administration Concerned with Iranian Influence in Iraq - 2003-04-24


The Bush administration is expressing concern about reports that Iranian-trained agents have recently crossed into southern Iraq and it is warning Iran against attempting to influence Iraqi politics. Brian Purchia has more.

ARI FLEISCHER WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN
“We have made clear to Iran we would oppose any outside organization’s interference with Iraq and with their road to democracy.”

That’s White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer Wednesday, saying the United States has made its position clear to the Iranian government.

Anti-American demonstrations continued in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala Wednesday. Thousands of Shiite Muslims are celebrating a religious pilgrimage long-banned by Saddam Hussein.

NATURAL SOUND CHANTING AND DRUMMING

Retired U.S. Army General Jay Garner, coordinating the reconstruction of post-war Iraq, says he is not concerned about recent anti-American demonstrations in southern Iraq.

RETIRED U.S. GENERAL JAY GARNER
"A month ago they wouldn't have been able to demonstrate and demonstrations are one of the properties of freedom, so they are free to demonstrate and we don't discourage that. So I think what you see right now is some staged demonstrations but I think below that, the majority of the people are glad we're here.”

He is currently visiting the Kurdish-controlled north, where leaders reassured him they will not take reprisals against Arabs following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. General Garner says efforts to build a civilian administration in Iraq are on track. Meanwhile, an emergency medical facility has been set up in Baghdad by the Saudi Arabian army medical services.

Oil from Iraq's southern oil fields began flowing through pipelines Wednesday for the first time since the war began, and power was restored to parts of Baghdad.

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