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New Iran-U.S. talks before end of 2007

TEHRAN, Dec. 8 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh has said tat Iran and the U.S. are to hold their fourth round of negotiations over security situation in Iraq in December 2007. The meeting is expected to discuss "the two sides' concerns and problems regarding Iraq", Ali al-Dabagh said in an interview with the Bahrain-based Alayam newspaper published on Saturday.

He said, "Iraq's security condition has improved but the Iraqi government always feels the threat of Al-Qaeda in this country."

The government has allocated 48 billion dollars to the activities aimed at reinforcing security and providing employment opportunities for Iraqi people, the spokesman explained.

Tehran and Washington held their first, second, and third rounds of negotiations on Iraq in Baghdad on May 28, July 24, and August 6, respectively.

The first and second rounds of talks were held between Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi and his American counterpart, Ryan Crocker.

The negotiations have so far led to the establishment of a trilateral security committee between Iran, U.S., and Iraq to investigate issues such as support for militias and Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Minister: Negotiations possible if U.S. changes behavior

TEHRAN, Dec. 8 (Mehr News Agency) -- Interior Minister Mostafa Purmohammadi said here on Saturday "If the U.S. changes its unilateral and unacceptable behavior and stop demanding preconditions for talks, we will be prepared for negotiations."

During a question-and-answer session with the students to mark the national Students Day in Tehran University, Purmohammadi elaborated on a couple of questions.

About talks with the U.S., he also noted, "Now time has changed, our status has improved, and we are ready for holding talks if proper conditions are provided."

Iran and the U.S. are at loggerheads over Tehran's nuclear program. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said if Tehran suspended its nuclear enrichment program she would be ready to meet her Iranian counterpart Manuchehr Mottaki at any time and any place.

On the resignation of former deputy interior minister for security affairs Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr, he told students that "Mr. Zolqadr intends to allocate more time to research work and decrease his executive activities."

Elsewhere in his remarks, he noted that the government is aware of the high inflation and the provincial trips are primarily scheduled to become more acquainted with the people's problems.

The interior minister pointed out although crude oil is sold for $80 per barrel due to a drop in dollar value, the increase in oil prices does not necessarily lead to an improvement in people's living standards.

Iran is the second largest oil exporter within OPEC.

Purmohammadi went on to say that if the government had not implemented the gasoline rationing plan, the U.S. could have put pressure on Iran on gasoline imports, which have decreased by 50 percent since it went into effect.

... Payvand News - 12/8/07 ... --

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