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Iran Claims Good Intentions Toward Iraq


http://gdb.rferl.org/195C97C3-A853-4FED-A9EB-4868D832C3FE_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/195C97C3-A853-4FED-A9EB-4868D832C3FE_mw800_mh600.jpg Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki (Photolur) March 17, 2006 -- The Iranian Foreign Minister says Tehran's decision to open diplomatic talks about Iraq with Washington is based upon what he called Tehran's "constant willingness" to help Iraq.


Manuchehr Mottaki made the remarks after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she thinks talks with Iran could be "useful." Rice says the talks will focus only on Iraq -- and will not be expanded to include the controversy over Iran's nuclear programs.


The United States and Iran have not had formal diplomatic ties since the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Islamist students in 1979.


The United States is now leading diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions. It also accuses Iran of contributing to instability in Iraq. Iran denies the charges.


Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said of March 16 that Tehran accepted the proposal from Washington in order "to help resolve the problems in Iraq and establish an independent government there."


The Iranian government previously had ruled out any talks with Washington on Iraq until U.S. military forces withdraw from the country.


The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been authorized by the White House to speak to Iranian diplomats about concerns related to Iraq.


Today, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad issued a statement that again accuses Tehran of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs. That statement says Iran is carrying out "unhelpful activities" in Iraq.


(Reuters, AP)

Iraq And Iran

Iranian Shi'a protesting the Golden Mosque Bombing in Iraq on February 24

WHAT IS GOING ON? On March 8, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a roundtable discussion on relations between Iraq and Iran. Although most analysts agree that Iran has been actively involved in Iraq since the U.S.-led military operation to oust former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, they continue to debate the nature, extent, and intent of that involvement.
The RFE/RL briefing featured WAYNE WHITE, former deputy director of the U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research's Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia, and A. WILLIAM SAMII, RFE/RL's regional analyst for Iran and editor of the "RFE/RL Iran Report."


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Listen to the complete RFE/RL briefing (about 75 minutes):
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