Maliki dispatches officials to Iran

May 1, 2008 at 1:32 PM

BAGHDAD, May 1 (UPI) -- A delegation of senior Shiite leaders arrived in Iran Thursday to speak with top military officials there about the backing of so-called special groups.

The delegation will discuss weapons the U.S. military said are linked to Iran suggesting Tehran is not honoring its pledge to respect Iraqi sovereignty, officials said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dispatched a hand-picked delegation of Shiite leaders to meet with their Iranian counterparts, including Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, The New York Times said.

Suleimani, who brokered a March cease-fire from Moqtada Sadr and his Mehdi Army, met with Ali al-Adeeb with the Dawa Party, Hadi al-Ameri with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and an aide to Maliki, Tariq Abdullah.

Maliki told Al-Arabiya Wednesday he maintained his position as the autonomous leader of Iraq and is not under Iranian influence.

"I have never been the man of Iran, and I told America that I'm not the man of America in Iraq," he said.

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