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Egypt, Iran Could Help Bring Stability to Iraq, say Analysts - 2004-04-14

Egypt is offering assistance in the effort to rebuild Iraq. Egypt's president has said his country is willing to help train Iraqi police. In the meantime, Iranian officials say there has been correspondence with Washington regarding an Iranian role in helping to bring stability to Iraq.

While no Arab country has contributed military troops to Iraq, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is offering to help train Iraq's police.

The Egyptian leader said in an interview published by the Washington Times newspaper that Iraq should have well-trained police to replace all foreign forces. That, he said, would allow the Iraqi people to know the country is once again under Iraqi authority.

Mr. Mubarak said that with a trained police force, foreign forces should pull out of urban areas in Iraq after the planned June 30, U.S. transfer of sovereignty, and allow Iraqi police to assume their role in helping protect the country.

The head of the political science department at Cairo University, Hassan Nafae, says the Egyptian president's offer will be seen in the Arab world as providing technical assistance, not support, for the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

?Iraq will need a strong police apparatus. And, also an Iraqi army. And, so, those who are trying to help train the Iraqi police or the Iraqi army will not be seen as supporting, unnecessarily, the American occupation, but trying to assist the Iraqi people,? Mr. Nafae said.

Jordan has already been providing training for Iraqi police.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials say Washington is looking to Tehran to help mediate the conflict in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said there has been correspondence with Washington regarding Iraq. The foreign minister said Washington was interested in Iran's help in improving the situation.

Iranian expert Amal Hamada, who lectures at Cairo University, says Iran believes it can offer meaningful assistance.

?They believe they have influence. They can do something. They can make a difference there because of the relationship between Iraqi Shiites and Iranian Shiites, especially the religious establishments,? Ms. Hamada said.

Iran's official news agency, IRNA, says a senior Foreign Ministry official was sent to Baghdad for talks with coalition officials, religious figures and politicians.

Ms. Hamada says that, if Iran and the United States can find a way to work together regarding Iraq, she believes it will open more opportunities for a normalization of U.S.-Iranian relations.

Washington broke relations with Tehran following the 1979 Islamic revolution and the taking of 444 American hostages. Since then, communication between the two countries has been conducted primarily through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.