U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday pushed Iraq to deliver on pledges to stop flights by Iran over its territory, which are feared to be carrying arms to the Syrian regime.
Clinton met with Iraqi Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzaie on the sidelines of a U.N. summit to discuss events in Iraq as well as the situation in Syria.
“We have made very clear to the Iraqis that they need to put a stop to these flights. They have taken some encouraging first steps. We saw that they stopped a North Korean flight,” a U.S. official said late Tuesday.
Last week, Iraq denied permission for a North Korean aircraft to cross its airspace on its way to Syria over suspicions it was carrying arms and advisers there, the Iraqi premier’s spokesman said.
The Iraqi leadership had made public announcements that they “certainly are not going to allow flights from Iran that carry military equipment, re-supplying of Syrian troops to go through their airspace,” the U.S. official added.
“They just need to follow through and deliver on that. And we very much heard from our meeting with the vice president of Iraq that is in fact their intent and that is their position.”
“They do not want to see a rearming of the Syrian regime come through their airspace,” he added.
Washington has been calling on Baghdad to ensure that all Iranian planes flying over its airspace are ordered to land and checked for weapons.
Tehran has told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki the planes are carrying humanitarian aid to Syria, where the opposition has been fighting since last year to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
But many in the U.S. government suspect the planes are ferrying military equipment to the Assad regime.