Iran Agrees to New Talks with US on Iraq

A014269417.jpgIran said on Tuesday it has agreed to a new round of talks with United States on improving security in Iraq. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Washington had made an offer for the new talks via the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which looks after US interests in Iran in the absence of a US mission.

“The Swiss embassy in Iran passed on the message of the US government for a new round of talks on Iraq to my colleagues in the foreign ministry,” Mottaki told reporters alongside his visiting Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.

“Iran is agreeing to this request in the framework of the policy of helping the Iraqi government and nation and (supporting) stability and security in this country,” Mottaki .

“The exact date of the fourth round of the talks will be announced in the near future,” he said.

Iran and the United States have already held three rounds of talks over Iraq this year.

US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi have held two sets of face-to-face talks May 28 and July 24, the highest level public contacts between the two sides for 27 years.

The two sides also met at experts level on August 6 but no meeting has been held since then.

All the talks failed to achieve a major breakthrough and were marked by mutual accusations over who was to blame for the violence in Iraq.

Iran says the problems are caused by “occupying” US forces while Washington accuses Tehran of backing Shiite militants. Iran has always denied the charges.

The talks have also never strayed into other contentious issues between the arch foes, namely Tehran’s nuclear program.

The United States accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons – a charge Iran denies – and has never ruled out the possibility of military action against the Islamic republic. Washington and its allies have never presented any corroborative document to prove their allegations about Iran.

Tensions have surged in the last weeks with the United States pressing for a third UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Tehran.

Iraq’s government spokesman last week said it was encouraged by signs of a thaw in ties between Iran and the United States over Iraq but that it wanted the two sides to have a “proper dialogue” about the issue.

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