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Iran: No Plans to Increase Involvement in Iraq

Iranian President Ahmadinejad (file photo).

Iranian President Ahmadinejad (file photo).

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq will not increase Iran's involvement with Iraq.

He made the comment in an interview Saturday with U.S. television channel CNN. He said U.S. troops should have left sooner and that Iraq should decide for itself how to provide training for its military personnel.

He said the United States is "hated" in the Middle East and said the region should not be influenced by U.S. pressure.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran plans to make greater efforts to encourage the Syrian government and the opposition in that country to "reach an understanding." He said there should be no "interference" from outside. Damascus is widely considered Tehran's strongest regional ally.

The Iranian leader had harsh criticism for the U.S. and other Western powers involved in the NATO mission in Libya. He said NATO's air campaign had exacerbated the conflict in the country.

Ahmadinejad told CNN that Iran has never had intentions of hurting Saudi Arabia. He was responding to a question about U.S. accusations that members of Iran's military elite were involved in an assassination plot on the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

A U.S. grand jury has indicted two Iranian men who are accused of being involved in the alleged plot against Saudi envoy Adel al-Jubeir. The U.S. says one of the suspects is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds force.