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Iraq seeking to facilitate second US-Iran meeting - Zebari

London, June 21, IRNA - Iraq is in talks with the US to facilitate a second meeting with Iran to help bring security to his country, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has revealed.

Speaking at a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett in London on Wednesday, Zebari said Iraq had been helping to establish dialogue between the US and Iran with the participation of his government.

"As we speak actually we are trying to organize or have a date for a second meeting in the near future," he said after being asked how successful the first round of talks had been.

The Iraqi foreign minister said he had been having discussions in Washington about a second meeting and found "there is a great deal of support in fact to continue these talks in the near future." But he added that had had no firm date yet.

During the press conference, he also criticized the decision by the British government to bestow a knighthood on blasphemous author Salman Rushdie, saying that he knew how difficult and how many years it took to contain the dispute 18 years ago.

"We share the views of many Muslims, Iraq is a Muslim country, but we believe that with all due respect to the Knighthood, I think it wasn't timely. This is our view," Zebari said, when asked if he also condemned the decision.

Standing beside him, Beckett expressed regret at the furore provoked throughout the Muslim World at the decision to bestow Rushdie with the title 'Sir.'

"Obviously we are sorry if there are people who have taken very much to heart this honour," she said but insisted that it was for a "life-long body of literary work" and not for his blasphemous book, The Satanic Verses.

Iran calls for boosting trade ties with Iraq

Tehran, June 21, IRNA - Head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) Mohammad Nahavandian here Thursday called for expansion of trade ties with Iraq.

Nahavandian was speaking at Iran-Iraq joint trade conference.

"Long-term economic ties should be established between Iran and Iraq by promoting the level of bilateral cooperation," he said.

He added joint venture is the only way to raise the level of trade ties between the two states.

"Iran's private sector will expand its ties with neighboring states based on a timely scheduled plan," he stated.

The official pointed to an offer on establishment of industrial towns and trade centers in Iraq and said, "The two countries can achieve an economic growth and an increase in security of investment if they share loss and gain of projects."

He added, "Iran and Iraq should give joint venture the priority in their economic projects due to the fact that Iraq's reconstruction and economic liberation in Iran are subject to time overlapping.

"The two states should tie up the two opportunities to achieve an appropriate economic growth and help security promotion in the region."

Nahavandian further stated, "If Tehran and Baghdad lay such foundations as bank, insurance offices and funds to guarantee joint export, they will have long-lasting bilateral cooperation." He referred to ongoing political and security conditions in Iraq and urged Baghdad to reduce investment risk for tradesmen of different countries.

He expressed the ICCIM's readiness to support joint economic efforts by Iran and Iraq.

... Payvand News - 6/21/07 ... --

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