WASHINGTON (AFP) - General Ray Odierno, who commands U.S. forces in Iraq, has accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year, The Washington Post reported Monday.
In an interview with the paper, Odierno said Iran was working publicly and covertly to undermine the status-of-forces agreement that the U.S. and Iraq are about to conclude and that must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament.
"Clearly, this is one they're having a 'full court press' on to try to ensure there's never any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq," the paper quoted him as saying, using a basketball expression.
"We know that there are many relationships with people here for many years going back to when Saddam was in charge, and I think they're utilizing those contacts to attempt to influence the outcome of the potential vote in the council of representatives," the general continued.
Odierno said, however, he had no definitive proof of the bribes, but added that "there are many intelligence reports" that suggest Iranians are "coming in to pay off people to vote against it," The Post reported.
The status-of-forces agreement is designed to replace a U.N. resolution that sanctions the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. This resolution expires at the end of the year.
Copyright 2008 AFP