Iran’s president says foreigners must leave Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, heading home from Iraq after a two-day visit, again touted the closer relations between Iraq and Iran and reiterated his criticism of the United States.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

“No one likes them,” said Ahmadinejad, who departed Iraq after a news conference on Monday.

“We believe that the forces which crossed oceans and thousands of kilometers to come to this region, should leave this region and hand over the affairs to the people’s and government of this region,” Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad’s visit follows trips to Iran last year by top officials of Iraq’s Shiite-led government, who have been fostering a closer relationship with predominantly Shiite Iran since the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled.

His visit was greeted warmly by Iraq’s Shiite Muslim leadership, who have had longtime links with Iran that predate the overthrow of Hussein. At the same time, many Sunni Muslims in Iraq dislike the Iranian regime and have demonstrated against his visit.

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