Monday, May 14, 2007


Iran, U.S. to discuss stabilising Iraq

Security, Politics, International
(Washington Post) - The White House announced today that the American ambassador in Baghdad would likely meet in the next several weeks with Iranian officials about stabilizing Iraq, as the administration embraced a tactic outsiders have long recommended as essential to reducing sectarian violence in Iraq. A White House spokesman said that Ambassador Ryan Crocker would meet with Iranian counterparts in Baghdad to prod Tehran to play a "productive role in Iraq." The confirmation came after the official Iranian news agency disclosed that the two sides had agreed to meet in Baghdad.
"The president authorized this channel because we must take every step possible to stabilize Iraq and reduce the risk to our troops even as our military continue to act against hostile Iranian-backed activity in Iraq," said Gordon D. Johndroe, the spokesman for the National Security Council.
A year ago, the White House authorized discussions about Iraq with Iran, but talks never got off the ground. As recently as December, when the Iraq Study Group recommended diplomatic dialogue with Iran and Syria, administration officials indicated little interest in such talks, insisting that Iran first abandon nuclear enrichment activities.
But with pressure growing from Congress to show results in halting the violence in Iraq, the administration appears to have concluded that it's worth trying to see if Iran can use its influence in Iraq to help curb violence and spur political reconciliation. The administration is also shifting its stance toward Syria, another country with which it has had chilly relations, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meeting earlier this month in Egypt with her Syrian counterpart.
Administration officials stressed that the talks with Iran would be limited to the security situation in Iraq and would not include negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, which are being handled by America's European allies. The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran after U.S. diplomats were taken hostage in 1979; the administration has accused Tehran of helping foment violence in Iraq.
A statement from the official Iranian news agency suggested the new talks were at the behest of Washington, though Johndroe would not say who initiated the new dialogue. "Following consultations between Iranian and Iraqi officials, Tehran has agreed to hold negotiations with Washington to relieve pains and suffering of the Iraqi people, support and strengthen the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and stabilize security and peace in that country," said Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini.

Labels: , , , , , ,

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?