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Iranian, Syrian Presidents Urge Foreign Troops To Leave Iraq

Presidents Khatami (left) and al-Assad review the honor guard in Tehran 4 July 2004-- The Iranian President and his visiting Syrian counterpart called today for the rapid departure of foreign troops from neighboring Iraq.

At a news conference in Tehran, Iranian President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami said both countries agree that the solution of the Iraqi crisis is the quick end to the U.S.-led occupation, the installation of a government comprising all elements of the Iraqi people, and the cooperation of the international community.

Khatami stressed that Iran and Syria could play a better role than the United States in helping restore stability and with the formation of a democratic system in Iraq.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed the need for Iraq's territorial integrity, a representative government, and the departure of what he called "the occupying forces." Assad arrived earlier today in Tehran for a two-day state visit.

UN Security Council Resolution 1546, passed unanimously on 8 June, provided for retaining "the presence of the multinational force" on the basis of a request by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. That force's mandate must be "reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or twelve months from the date of this resolution [i.e., 8 June 2005]" under Resolution 1546 and expires with the completion of the political process culminating in a "constitutionally elected government by 31 December 2005."