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Clinton assures US commitment to Iraq

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied yesterday Iranian allegations of a US-backed suicide attacks recently, and reiterated a firm support for Iraqi government.

"We renew our commitment to work with Iraqi government and the Iraqi people until accomplishing a stable, sovereign and self-reliant state," Clinton told a joint press conference with her Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari.

Clinton condemned the deadly attack in Iraq in the past two days and said "they are certainly regrettable and horrible in terms of loss of life, but the reaction from the Iraqi government and Iraqi people was firm and united in rejecting the violence."

Her comments came as Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed yesterday the United States for the recent deadly bombing attacks in Iraq that killed at least 78 Iranian pilgrims.

Clinton said that she was not aware of Khamenei comments, but said "It is disappointing for any one to make such a claim since it is clearly traced to the al-Qaida remnants and other violent groups who wished to disrupt the progress of Iraq."

For his part, Zebari said that Clinton held meetings with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki along with meeting ordinary Iraqis.

He said that Clinton's message to Iraq was that "The United States will continue supporting the Iraqi government to achieve stability and democracy."

Earlier in the day, Clinton sat down with Iraqi widows and hosted a rare town hall event on the sprawling embassy compound in Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone, which also houses the Iraqi government offices and some foreign embassies.

In the morning, Clinton arrived in Baghdad on a surprise visit to hold talks with Iraqi leaders.

Her visit came after a wave of deadly violence in the past two days in Iraq which claimed the lives of more than 130 people.

This is Clinton's the first trip to Iraq as America's top diplomat. She said the country has made great progress in maintaining stability despite the recent violence.

On Friday, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a Shiite Muslim shrine in Baghdad, killing 60 people in the deadliest single incident in Iraq in more than 10 months.

The attack followed major bloodshed on Thursday and at least 130 people were killed over the two days.


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