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Bush Warns Iran About Support for Militants in Iraq

U.S. President George Bush says Iran will pay a price for what he says is a continuing effort to supply Iraqi militants with weapons to attack American troops. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Thursday wrapped up two days of talks in Tehran.

President Bush says he presumes Prime Minister Maliki is trying to get Iran to play a more constructive role in Iraq. But Mr. Bush says when he catches Iranian leaders playing a non-constructive role, there will be a price to pay.

"One of the main reasons that I asked Ambassador Crocker to meet with Iranians inside Iraq was to send the message that there will be consequences for people transporting, delivering EFP's, highly sophisticated IED's that kill Americans in Iraq," he said.

Iran denies repeated U.S. allegations that it is training Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq and supplying them with armor-piercing roadside bombs that have been used against U.S. forces.

Iran's state-run news agency says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Wednesday told Prime Minister Maliki that their countries share a heavy responsibility in establishing peace and security in the region.

The report says Mr. Maliki told the Iranian leader that he appreciates Iran's "positive and constructive" role in helping the Iraqi government improve security.

Asked about that report at a White House news conference, President Bush said he is confident that the Iraqi prime minister understands that Iran is destabilizing Iraq by sending weapons there.

"If the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend the prime minister because I do not believe they are constructive. I don't think he, in his heart of heart[s], thinks they are constructive either," he said.

President Bush says Americans should be concerned about Iran enriching uranium for what he says is a nuclear weapons program. Iran says those activities are only meant to generate electricity.

"We ought to be very concerned about Iran. They are a destabilizing influence," he said. "They are a government that's declared policy is very troubling obviously when Ahmadinejad has announced that the destruction of Israel is part of his foreign policy. That's something obviously we can not live with."

President Bush called on Prime Minister Maliki to continue working toward political reconciliation in Iraq.

Iran's Vice President Parviz Davoodi told Mr. Maliki Thursday that peace and security in Iraq depends on the withdrawal of what he called "occupying forces."

There are currently more than 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

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