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Iranian Officials Pledge to Help Boost Iraq's Security

Iranian officials have promised visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Tehran will do all it can to boost security in Iraq.

Iran's Vice President Parviz Davoodi told Mr. Maliki Thursday that Tehran believes security in Iraq will ensure security in Iran and the whole region.

But Mr. Davoodi added that establishment of peace and security in Iraq depends on the withdrawal of what he called "occupying forces."

The United States has repeatedly accused Iran of arming and training Shi'ite militants behind some of the violence in Iraq. Tehran denies the charge.

Mr. Maliki is facing growing criticism for lagging behind in securing national reconciliation measures among Iraq's Sunni Arabs, Shi'ites, and Kurds.

The state-run Iranian news agency quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday as saying Iran and Iraq share a "heavy responsibility" in establishing peace and security in the region.

According to the report, Mr. Maliki appreciated Iran's "positive and constructive" role in helping the Iraqi government improve security for its people.

Mr. Maliki, who once lived in exile in Iran, has been reluctant to openly support U.S. claims that Iran provides support for Shi'ite militias in Iraq.

At a security conference in the Syrian capital, an Iranian envoy strongly denied U.S. accusations that Tehran is fueling violence in Iraq as well as attacks on American troops there.

The two-day conference in Damascus brought together representatives from the U.N. Security Council, the Arab League and Iraq's neighbors. But officials from Saudi Arabia are absent.

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