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Iran says details of talks on Iraq with U.S. to be finalized soon
www.chinaview.cn 2006-03-19 00:00:00

    TEHRAN, March 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said here on Saturday that details of the proposed negotiations with the United States on Iraq would be finalized and publicized in the near future, the official IRNA news agency reported.

    "The details to be finalized include the composition of the negotiating sides," Mottaki was quoted as saying at the end of a conference of Iranian diplomatic missions abroad.

    "The issue of Iraq and the ongoing situation there will be topics of the talks. We hope that we will take final strides in materializing the demands of the Iraqi leaders, particularly those of (Shiite leader) Abdul Aziz al-Hakim," Mottaki added.

    Meanwhile, Iranian Government Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said that Iran gave priority to the restoration of peace and stability in Iraq but had not changed its stances on related key issues, calling for withdrawal of the U.S.-led occupation forces from Iraq.

    "Tehran will seriously try to help Iraq's democratic interim government establish an independent and stable government...All the U.S., British and other occupying forces have to leave Iraq as no stability or peace will result from their continued presence in the country," Elham said.

    Elham also said that the Americans had been pursuing talks with Iran on the issue of Iraq for a long time but the Iranian government "believes that the issue is related to the Iraqi government and Tehran will not take a measure without being asked by them (Iraqi officials)."

    On Thursday, Ali Larijani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said that Iran was ready to hold talks with Washington to solve Iraqi problems as proposed by Iraqi Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Thursday that the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad was authorized to hold talks with Iran but stressed that it was a narrow mandate dealing specifically with issues concerning Iraq.

    The two sides both restricted the mulled negotiations to discussing the Iraqi situation exclusively.

    Iran, which has been accused by the U.S. of allowing weapons and insurgents to cross into Iraq, had previously said it was not interested in discussions before U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq. The two countries have cut off diplomatic relations since the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979.

    The U.S. also accuses Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons and sponsoring terrorists.

    In April 2004, Washington officially asked Tehran to help stabilize the turbulent situation in Iraq, but failed to receive positive responses from Iran. Enditem

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