Clinton warns Iran on Iraq interference
Washington - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday implicitly warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq after the decision to pull all American troops out of the war-wracked state by the end of the year.
Clinton, on a visit to Tajikistan, echoed President Barack Obama's comments that the United States would continue to work with Iraq despite a complete military withdrawal, but urged neighbouring states to be similarly constructive.
"To countries in the region, especially Iraq's neighbours, we want to emphasize that America will stand with our allies and friends, including Iraq, in defense of our common security and interests," she said.
The United States would continue to have a presence in the region, which "should be free from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy", Clinton added, alluding to US arch-foe Iran.
Washington has frequently accused Shiite militant groups in Iran of committing attacks in Iraq, and US officials routinely criticize Tehran for interfering in the affairs of Baghdad's Shiite-led government.
Obama's order for all US soldiers to leave Iraq by December 31 will end a divisive and bloody war that cost the lives of more than 4,400 American troops, tens of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of billions of dollars.
Obama rose to power in opposing the unpopular conflict and pledged as a presidential candidate to withdraw all US military personnel, mindful that the occupation of Iraq had estranged the United States from its allies.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama said his decision, coupled with the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, were reminders of "renewed American leadership in the world."