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Guarded optimism about next round of Iran-U.S. talks over Iraq

TEHRAN, Dec. 23 (Mehr News Agency) -- It appears that the United States and Iran will hold a meeting to discuss the situation in Iraq in the near future. Commenting on the issue, international affairs expert Mohammad-Ali Ramin told the Mehr News Agency that regardless of the U.S motives, it is incumbent upon Iran to participate in the next round of talks with the U.S. over security in Iraq.

Iran should agree to negotiations for the sake of the oppressed Iraqi nation, he opined.

In the current situation, the U.S has been forced to acknowledge Iran's influence in Iraq and the whole region, Ramin said, adding that now the U.S. government is asking for Iran's help to clean up the mess it has made in Iraq.

To solve its problems, the U.S. has been mulling various scenarios, such as dividing Iraq into different regions and fomenting discord between Shias and Sunnis, but the only way out of the current impasse over the security situation in Iraq is holding talks with Iran, he insisted.

Mehr also sought the views of Dr. Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, the chairman of the London-based Urosevic Research Foundation, who said that despite the United States' unacceptable behavior in previous rounds of talks, in light of the recent changes in U.S. public opinion in regard to Iran, one can hope that the next round of talks will be more productive.

However, it should not be forgotten that U.S. officials entered into the previous negotiations while making various allegations about Iran, Mojtahedzadeh said.

He criticized the U.S. attitude, saying, "In previous meetings, U.S. officials did not show the necessary goodwill."

However, Iran agreed to attend the negotiations with the sole purpose of helping the Iraqi nation, he stressed.

Meanwhile, political analyst Alireza Davari told Mehr that the Iran-U.S. talks could be held at a higher level, but that would need time.

Although the Iran-U.S. problems are too complicated to be solved through such negotiations, the fact that the two countries are talking at all is a welcome development, he noted.

On the Iraq issue, it is indisputable that security in the country cannot be established without the help of Iran, and that has become the main reason for holding meetings between Iran and the U.S., he observed.

One should not pay attention to U.S. officials' rhetoric and the fact that they are blaming Iran for the insecurity in Iraq because they are well aware that Iran does not benefit from instability in Iraq, Davari pointed out.

The Mehr News Agency also spoke to international affairs expert Ali Khorram about the issue.

In light of the recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report and its effect on the talks between the two countries, it's time to elevate the level and expand the agenda of the Iran-U.S. meetings.

The main difference between the fourth round of talks and the previous ones is that after the NIE report acknowledged that Iran is not seeking to produce nuclear weapons, a diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and the U.S. has happened, and it will leave its mark on the fourth meeting, he observed.

Khorram said the fact that the U.S. has renounced the military option against Iran could make the talks more fruitful, and elevating the level and expanding the agenda of the talks could help clear up the misunderstandings between the two states.

"On Iran, I continue to say that if Iran will just do the one thing that is required of it by the Security Council resolutions that have been passed -- and that is suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities -- then I'm prepared to meet my counterpart any place and anytime and anywhere and we can talk about anything," AP quoted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying.

The Iraqi government has announced that it is prepared to host the next round of talks between Iran and the United States over security in Iraq and proposed that the negotiations be held in January.

Iran and the United States have already held three rounds of talks over Iraq this year. The two foes have had no diplomatic relations since 1980.

U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi held face-to-face talks on May 28 and July 24, the highest level public contacts between the two sides for 27 years.

... Payvand News - 12/24/07 ... --

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