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Iran Says U.S. Policy Undermined Its Efforts In Iraq --> 18 April 2004 -- Iran today blamed the United States for the failure of Tehran's efforts to ease tensions in Iraq.

Iran had sent a diplomatic delegation to Iraq in an effort to end a standoff between Iraqi militias loyal to anti-American Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and U.S. forces.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said Washington's use of what he called an "iron-fist policy" in Iraq complicated the situation.

He also said a lack of security prevented Iranian diplomats from meeting with al-Sadr or Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful Shi'a cleric.

Assefi said Iran will no longer cooperate with the United States over Iraq until Washington hands over power to the United Nations or to an interim Iraqi government.