Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi (L) attends a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad Oct. 31, 2011. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Monday a U.S. plan to increase military presence in the Middle East after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq shows lack of "rationality and prudence." (Xinhua/Bashar)
BAGHDAD, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Monday a U.S. plan to increase military presence in the Middle East after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq shows lack of "rationality and prudence."
"The Americans are not following a rational and prudent approach. They always have a deficit, unfortunately, in rationality and prudence," Salehi said during a joint press conference here with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari.
Salehi's comments came in response to reports that the Obama administration plans to bolster the U.S. military presence in the region after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year.
As part of its plans to keep eyes on Iran, the Obama administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
As for reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have warned Iran not to meddle in Iraq after the U.S. pullout, Salehi said "Iraq does not need any body to meddle in its internal affairs."
"Iraq is an independent country and a great nation with 6,000 years of written history. The Iraqis know better than anybody else how to run their country."
For his part, Zebari said that the government of Iraq and its people will be the only parties that will fill the vacuum after the U.S. troops' withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year.
"No other party can fill the vacuum in Iraq except the people of Iraq and the government of Iraq after the withdrawal of American forces of Iraq," Zebari said.
Earlier, Clinton warned in an interview that "No one should miscalculate America's resolve and commitment to helping support the Iraqi democracy."
"We have paid too high a price to give the Iraqis this chance," she said, warning Iran not to try to exploit the situation in Iraq after the U.S. pullout.
Panetta also warned Iran that it should not meddle in Iraq when American forces leave the country at the end of this year.
"The message to Iran and everybody else that might have any ideas there is that the United States is going to have a presence in the region for a long time to come," Panetta said.
Late on Sunday, Iran's top diplomat arrived in Baghdad on an official visit and held meetings with Zebari and other top Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, to discuss the latest development in the region and means to boost bilateral ties.
Relations between the Shiite Muslim country of Iran and the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq have picked up considerably since Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime was ousted in a U.S.- led invasion in 2003.
Iraq and Iran fought a bloody eight-year war in 1980s, resulting in the loss of 1 million lives.
Special Report: Situation in Iraq