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Iraq's PM visits Iran on 'back-me' tour

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Iraq's PM visits Iran on 'back-me' tour


Iraq’s prime minister is in Iran as part of a Middle East tour designed to bolster his fragile premiership.

Nouri al-Maliki’s visit is being viewed with apprehension by some countries in the region, wary that Iran’s influence there is growing.

Maliki is eager to reinforce his position as prime minister. Inconclusive elections have left Iraq without a government for eight months.

But opponents at home fear that Maliki’s talks with Iran will squeeze the minority Sunni groups out of power.

His position has already been strengthened after winning the support of the powerful radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr – Iran is believed to have persuaded him to back Maliki.

The prime minister’s tour has taken him to Syria and Jordan in the search for support to form a government. After Iran he is expected to visit Turkey and Egypt.

But the prospect of greater Iranian influence is disquieting some leaders. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad visited Lebanon last week prompting the Israeli prime minister to say Lebanon is fast becoming an Iranian satellite.

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