Iran and U.S. Governments Ready For New Direct Talks
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Iran and the United States say
they're hoping to hold a second round of direct talks on ways to stabilize Iraq.
If a meeting can be arranged, it would be the first since the U.S. ambassador to
Baghdad met with Iranian diplomats in the Iraqi capital nearly two months
spokesman Sean McCormack said on July 17 that any such meeting would be tightly
focused on how to bring peace to Iraq and persuading Iran to stop giving aid to
violent militias there.
"If there were to be such a meeting, then it
would be an opportunity to directly convey to the Iranian government that their
behavior in Iraq is not consistent with their stated public objectives for
Iraq," McCormack said.
McCormack said Iranian activity in Iraq threatens
not only the safety of U.S. forces there, but also the ability of the Iraqi
government to establish security and stability for its
'Positive Role' In Iraq
A reporter asked McCormack
if the United States believes Iran has increased its activities in Iraq since
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker met in Baghdad on May 28 with Iranian diplomats.
McCormack declined to say whether there had been an increase, but said there
hasn't been a decline.
While accusing Iraq of foul play in Iraq,
McCormack briefly struck a conciliatory tone. He said that until recently, Iran
has been helpful by not interfering with the efforts of the government of Afghan
President Hamid Karzai to stabilize his country. McCormack said he hoped Tehran
was finally prepared to do the same in Iraq.
"It could be helpful, it
could be useful to be able to have that direct exchange and to convey a message
once again directly to them. But we'll see. This is entirely dependent upon the
Iranians and what they decide to do vis a vis Iraq," McCormack said. "We would
hope that they would want to play a positive role in Iraq. They've stated that
they want to play a positive role in Iraq, and they've demonstrated in other
areas such as Afghanistan that they can -- should they wish to -- play a
Tensions Remain High
McCormack spoke only
hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki told a news conference in
Tehran that his country was willing to hold more talks with the United States.
But he said the United States had yet to request a meeting.
last face-to-face meeting, tensions have risen between Iran and the United
States. Washington has been demanding that Iran release four Iranian-Americans
who are being held on charges of endangering Iran's national security. U.S.
officials say the charges are fabricated.
Iran, meanwhile, wants U.S.
officials in Iraq to release five Iranians accused of training and equipping
Iraqi Shi'ite fighters. Iran says the prisoners are diplomats.
was also asked if these issues, as well as perhaps Iran's nuclear program, might
be topics at a meeting of U.S. and Iranian officials. He said no, and that the
ground rules for this meeting would be every bit as strict as those for the
meeting in May.
"As in past instances when we've discussed this, a couple
things apply: One, it applies solely to Iraq. Two, it's not a negotiating
channel," McCormack said.
McCormack declined to give details of how the
two countries would go about setting up a meeting. In Tehran, Mottaki said a
request for talks would go through official channels, indicating the Swiss
Embassy in Tehran.
Copyright (c) 2007 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
... Payvand News - 7/19/07 ... --