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Baghdad will try to mediate between Mottaki and Rice: Iraq envoy

TEHRAN, April 11 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iraq's Ambassador to Iran, Mohamed Majid al-Sheikh, has said his country will try to act as a mediator to arrange talks between Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki and the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on Tuesday.

The Iraqi officials have previously called on Iran and the Unites States to hold talks because such negotiations "can serve the interests of the Iraqi nation," al-Sheikh told ISNA.

According to Reuters, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday that Rice was open to direct talks with Iran over Iraq when she attends a meeting of Iraq's neighbors and world powers.

The Iraq security conference is scheduled to be held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt from May 3 to 4.

Iran has denied that talks with the U.S. were on its agenda.

The Iraqi ambassador said Iraq believes that "talks at a negotiation table are better than speaking separately outside a roundtable." He expressed hope that the negotiation would take place.

Asked if Iraq was not capable of providing enough security for the conference so that it will be held outside Iraq, al-Sheikh stated, "Iraqi government tried its outmost to hold the upcoming conference in Baghdad and made a guarantee that it can provide security for the participants."

However, some of the foreign ministers said they will not be able to attend the meeting due to security issues in Iraq, he added.

He said in order ensure the security and participation of all neighboring countries "we agreed to hold the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh."

... Payvand News - 4/12/07 ... --

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