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Iranian diplomat comments on Tehran's conditions for talks with US

Baghdad, April 7, IRNA-An Iranian diplomat said on Thursday that Iran's condition for opening talks with US was that the negotiations should be transparent and its outcome should be made known to the Iraqi nation.

Speaking to IRNA on condition of anonymity, the official from Iranian Embassy in Baghdad said that the upcoming negotiations between the two sides should be "open and transparent" and it must be held "in the presence of a representative from the Iraqi government." Rejecting some reports that Iran-US talks would begin next Saturday, the diplomat said "The talks will not be held on Saturday but it will likely be held in the mid next week."

Based on the Iranian calendar every week starts from Saturday.

The diplomat said that the talks "Will focus on the issue of Iraq."

Commenting on a report by an Arabic newspaper that an Iranian delegation had entered Iraq to prepare the grounds for the upcoming talks, the Iranian diplomat said "No delegation has yet entered Iraq in this regard."

Stressing that the idea of Iran-US talks on Iraq was initially proposed by Iraqi leaders, specially head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the diplomat said that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari were among other senior Iraqi leaders who called for speedy talks between the Iranian and US officials to discuss the issue of Iraq.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has accepted the proposal of the Iraqi leaders and announced its readiness to make every efforts to resolve problems in Iraq, despite the considerations that Tehran has announced to the US," said the diplomat.

He stressed that current problems in Iraq emanated from the presence of the occupation forces in the country.

The diplomat added that the Iranian nation and its government viewed Iraq's problems as as their own and hoped that security and calm would eventually be restored to their war-torn neighboring state after its ongoing political process is successfully completed.

The issue of upcoming Iran-US talks on Iraq was extensively covered by the Iraqi press that mostly welcomed the event.

A number of Iraqi officials who had initially opposed the idea, have currently taken a softer stance after the Iranian officials said it was necessary that a number of Iraqi representatives be also present in the upcoming talks.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, was one of the primary opponents of the talks who, in his latest statements quoted by the Iraqi media, called for holding of multilateral talks on Iraq's issue by other neighboring states.

US Ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, unveiled last winter for the first time that he was given "full authority" by Washington to open talks with Tehran.

Although the ambassador hoped to receive warm welcomes from the Iranian side after his announcement was made public by the press, he was disappointed when he found out that the Iranian officials either shrugged or even rejected the idea.

Some political analysts believed that opening Iran-US talks was not a full authority for Khalilzad but "a difficult mission" assigned to him by the White House leaders.

... Payvand News - 4/6/06 ... --

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