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Iraqi premier due in Iran next week: report

TEHRAN, May. 31 (Mehr News Agency) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is scheduled to visit Tehran on June 7, Baghdad-based Al-Sabah newspaper reported on Saturday.

Al-Maliki earlier told Al-Sharq al-Awsat newpaper that he plans to travel to Iran to discuss the outcome of an Iraqi delegation's recent visit to Tehran.

A delegation of senior Iraqi officials traveled to Iran earlier this month for talks on ways to remove obstacles to new Iran-U.S. negotiations over security situation in Iraq and provide the ground for the fourth round of talks.

The Islamic Republic and the Unites States have held three rounds of ambassador-level meetings in Baghdad since last May on ways to end violence in the Arab state.

A fourth round of talks, however, has been repeatedly postponed by the two sides.

Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham on Saturday denied rumors that al-Maliki will be seeking explanations from the Iranian government for Western accusations that Iran is interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs.

Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Elham described the trip as a normal visit meant to expand bilateral relations.

Iran is in constant contact with the Iraqi government, he added.

Iran is developing cooperation in economic, political, and cultural areas with Baghdad and such visits are normal, he stated.

Rafsanjani to visit Saudi Arabia Monday: report

TEHRAN, May 31 (Mehr News Agency) -- Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will visit Riyadh on Monday to discuss developments in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine with the Saudi king, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported on Saturday.

The visit will take place at the invitation of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the newspaper quoted sources close to Rafsanjani as saying.

The invitation letter was submitted to Rafsanjani by Saudi ambassador to Tehran Osama bin Ahmad Al-Sonosi on May 14.

Rafsanjani will head a high-ranking delegation in his visit to the kingdom.

Rafsanjani's visit is aimed at ensuring the implementation of the recent agreement reached between rival Lebanese groups and trying to apply a similar approach in brokering a deal between Palestinian groups.

According to the newspaper, the Iranian and Saudi officials will also discuss the proposed security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq which calls for keeping U.S. troops in the country after the current UN mandate expires.

... Payvand News - 05/31/08 ... --

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