TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) – Iran said Sunday it had sent a formal message of warning to the United States about its actions in neighboring Iraq.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also denied suggestions made by some U.S. officials in recent days that Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi had passed sensitive U.S. intelligence about Iraq to Iran.
“We have warned the Americans about Iraq,” Asefi told a weekly news conference. “It is natural for two countries which do not have diplomatic relations to exchange messages.”
Asefi did not comment on the contents of the warning, but officials and religious leaders in Shi’ite Muslim Iran have expressed outrage in recent weeks about the presence of U.S.-led forces in the holy Shi’ite Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
Asefi said the diplomatic message was sent via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran. Washington broke ties with Iran in 1980.
Asefi described as “baseless” accusations made by unnamed U.S. officials in some U.S. media that Chalabi — whose Baghdad headquarters were raided by U.S. troops and Iraqi police last week — had leaked information to Iran that the officials said could “get Americans killed.”
“We have not received any classified information, neither from Chalabi nor any member of the Iraqi Governing Council,” he said.
“What is going on between us and members of the Iraqi Governing Council and all groups in Iraq is negotiation, the exchange of views and clear and transparent cooperation.”
Asefi said the accusations against Chalabi, a former favorite of the Pentagon, were part of an effort to deflect attention away from Washington’s problems in Iraq.
“The Americans have in recent months lied about several issues and failed to prove them,” he said. “It seems that lying is becoming institutionalized in American policy.”