Bush says no to Iran-controlled Shi'a state

Baghdad - United States President George Bush was quoted on Thursday as telling one of Iraq's main newspapers that he did not foresee Iraq becoming a Shi'a theocracy controlled by neighbouring Iran.

"I don't think there will be a Shi'a religious government in Iraq which Iran will dominate," Bush was quoted as telling Azzaman newspaper in an interview.

"I am convinced that the Iraqi people do not want any party to control them, they want the United States to be a friendly state and do not want the Iranians to dominate them," he said.

Around 60 percent of Iraqis are Shi'as, who were persecuted during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Washington is due to hand sovereignty to a new unelected Iraqi government on June 30.

US-led forces are due to remain in Iraq, raising doubts about how much power the new Iraqi government will actually exercise.

Bush said US-led forces would continue to train the Iraqi police and security forces and help Iraqi forces "deal with foreign fighters" in Iraq.

"We will have an active role but the reality is that Iraqis will control Iraqi affairs," he was quoted as saying.

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