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Rice Could Meet With Iranian Counterpart

April 5, 2007 -- The U.S. State Department says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice does not rule out a bilateral meeting with Iranian counterpart Manuchehr Mottaki on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq in early May.

Spokesman Sean McCormack says Rice could bring up Iranian activities in Iraq if such a meeting does take place. Washington is on the record as accusing Tehran of providing material support to militants.

McCormack said the possible bilateral meeting would not address the Iranian nuclear program, which is to be discussed by the six powers involved in the talks to date -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.

Rice said earlier she would be attending the ministerial gathering meant to be a continuation of the international conference on Iraq's security, which was held on March 10 in Baghdad and which brought together 17 countries and organizations, including major powers and Iraq's neighbors.

The upcoming meeting is expected to be held in Istanbul.

Also in Washington today, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States is not inclined to release five Iranians captured in Iraq in January.

Gates told reporters in Washington today that the U.S. military believes the captured Iranians were supporting Iraqi insurgents.

He also said U.S. and Iraqi officials are discussing the possibility of allowing Iranian access to the captured men but added that such access was not obligatory.

(compiled from agency reports)

Copyright (c) 2007 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

... Payvand News - 4/6/07 ... --

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