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U.S. military presence part of agreements, no financial support to Syrian regime: Iraqi prime minister

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuted claims that relations between Iraq and the U.S. are still those of colonized-colonizer and stressed that his government is not supporting the Syrian economy.

“The U.S. is a peer country and we have mutual interests,” Maliki told Al Arabiya in a special interview to be aired Tuesday.

Maliki explained that any American military presence in Iraq is part of official agreements that stipulate respecting the sovereignty of Iraq.

“American soldiers in Iraq work as military trainers and they do not enjoy any special immunity.”

The same, Maliki added, applies to American weapons, all of which are bought by the Iraqi governments as part of the military cooperation between the two countries.

“We have made a deal with the U.S. to provide us with 32 F-16 warplanes. We have paid the first installment of the deal and which includes 18 planes approved by the Congress.”

Maliki said that the Iraqi government is still waiting for the approval of the Congress on the rest of the planes.

Maliki vehemently denied that the Iraqi government is offering financial support for the Syrian regime in order to boost the Syrian Lira.

“Iraq has not paid one single dollar to Syria.”

Iraq, he said, has tried several times to interfere to resolve the Syrian crisis.

“We did try to create a rapprochement between the opposition and the ruling Baath Party.”

Maliki said he is very cautious in tackling the issue of creating semi-autonomous regions in Iraq accordance with the constitution.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)