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Iraq amb. warns of Iran's influence

From NBC's Libby Leist
Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this morning, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill accused Iran of "meddling" in Iraqi politics and playing "a negative role" in the country.

Hill described the Iran-Iraq relationship as "very malevolent" despite some close Shia ties. He said he has first-hand experience with Iranian weaponry being provided to Iraqi insurgent groups.

"One of Iranian weapons I found in the front yard of my house," he said, referring to a rocket that landed in the Green Zone early this year.

Hill described Iran's influence in Iraq as "a reality" that the U.S. must deal with, but he said as Iraqi presidential elections approach the U.S. will be closely watching whether Iran respects Iraq's sovereignty and whether Iran will support a long-term U.S.-Iraq relationship.

Hill is in Washington updating lawmakers about U.S.-Iraq strategy. He said the next 12 months will be "very critical" in bringing security to Iraq before the majority of U.S. troops leave in August 2010. Hill told the panel the U.S. goal is to "significantly reduce" its civilian presence as well.