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Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Page: 265

Mr McClelland asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 29 March 2007:

(1)   What is his response to comments made by United States (US) State Department spokesman, Mr Sean McCormack, on 29 January 2007 to the effect that there is a significant body of evidence tying Iran to sectarian attacks inside Iraq.

(2)   Is he aware of allegations that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is colluding with Iran and radical anti-US cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, to facilitate the safe passage of senior militia members to Iran in order to evade capture or killing by US forces; if so, what is his response to those allegations.

(3)   Has the Australian Government raised the matters referred to in Parts (1) and (2) with Prime Minister Maliki; if so, what was the substance of the representation and what response was received.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   There is evidence that weaponry and training support from Iran is being provided to at least some Shiite militia in Iraq.

(2)   and (3) In a press release issued following his meeting with Prime Minister Howard on 17 March, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki emphasised that stability in Iraq can only be achieved through a commitment to the “political process and national reconciliation, in finding common ground between all groups of the Iraqi people, while using force against anyone who does not follow the law.” In his 21 March speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Prime Minister Howard said that “Iraq’s neighbours must recognise that greater stability in Iraq is fundamental to their national security. Iran in particular must end the transfer of arms to radical Shiite groups attacking coalition forces and Iraqi Sunni civilians.”