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US showing interest in 4th round of talks with Iran: Iraq's Hakim

Tehran, Dec 17, IRNA - Washington is showing interest in the fourth round of talks with Iran, political advisor to United Iraq Coalition Mohsen Hakim said in Tehran on Monday.

He told IRNA in an exclusive interview that in his talks with the US officials in Washington, they showed eagerness to hold dialogue with Iran.

"Thanks to the effective steps Iran has taken to restore law and order to Iraq in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's collapse, the US officials have dropped their accusations against Iran," he said.

The Iraqi political leader said that relations with Iran was a topic of negotiations with the US officials in Washington, adding that attitude of the US officials toward Iran was different from the past.

"Perhaps, the change of tone in Washington was consistent with verification of Iranian nuclear program by the UN agency and the report of US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) acknowledging non-diversion of Iranian program," Hakim said.

The Iraqi leader said that in his previous visits to Washington, the US officials used to accuse Iran of following a weapons program, but, they have shifted their stance following the NIE report.

Asked to comment on Iraq's security, Hakim said that great strides have been taken to improve situation in Iraq after the ethnic Sunni Muslims realized that Al-Qaeda is misleading their youth.

"Al-Anbar province which had fallen to the hands of Al-Qaeda is currently run by Sunni Muslim tribesmen and enjoy almost full security," Hakim said.

He said that challenges between religious groups have subsided and that the government's security structures including the police force by recruiting tens of thousands of personnel are restoring law and order to the country.

He said that the special attention paid by Iraq's neighboring states to the country's security was an effective factor in this respect, citing the fatwa issued by the religious leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia to denounce the Salafis for fomenting terrorism in Iraq.

Iran FM: U.S. must prepare itself for more committed talks

TEHRAN, Dec. 17 (ISNA)-Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki stated that the highest level of Iraq talks with the U.S. could be held between ambassadors and that there was no reason to have talks in higher level.

Interviewed with Alalam Mottaki regarding the upcoming round of talks with the U.S. said "we have done what ever that was needed for aiding Iraq's nation and establishing its government, we even negotiated with the U.S. and we hope it will be prepared for more committed talks."

The fourth round of Iraq talks must be serious and must have pragmatic results, he emphasized.

Answering the question whether Iran would make specific demands from the other side particularly regarding evacuating Iraq he noted "we have prepared a specific agenda which will announce to the U.S. before the talks."

... Payvand News - 12/17/07 ... --

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