Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi has denied that he intentionally misled the United States before the invasion of Iraq or passed sensitive U.S. intelligence to Iran.

Mr. Chalabi expressed sorrow that Americans have been killed in Iraq, but rejected charges he intentionally deceived the United States by providing faulty information about Saddam Hussein's weapons program to provoke the war.

"I regret every loss of American lives, of American lives that happened in Iraq subsequent to the end of fighting with Saddam," Mr. Chalabi says. "As for the fact I deliberately misled the American government, this is an urban myth."

Mr. Chalabi's comments were made at a discussion Wednesday  at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization in Washington.  He  rejected an allegation that he passed sensitive U.S. intelligence to Iran, including information about secret codes.

"I did not pass any information to Iran that compromised any national security interest of the United States and I did not pass, for the nth (numerous times) I say it, information about codes to Iran," Mr. Chalabi says. "I have no knowledge of U.S. codes or their statuses."

Mr. Chalabi, who visited Iran before traveling to the United States for an eight-day visit, said he wants Iraq to have friendly relations with its neighbors, including Turkey and Iran.

Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are demanding that Mr. Chalabi answer questions about the faulty pre-war intelligence and the alleged intelligence leak to Iran. 

While Mr. Chalabi was speaking, a few dozen people protested his visit outside the building.

He said Iraq is committed to democracy, and he called for the resolution to the status of thousands of Iraqi detainees in his country

"People have languished in jails, both American and Iraqi, tens of thousands of people, for over two years now, some of them, without being charged with any specific offense," Mr. Chalabi says. "This is in violation of the (Iraqi) constitution.  We must address that.  We will not rest until we address this issue."

The Shi'ite politician met earlier Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  He is to meet with other U.S. officials during his visit, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.