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February 28, 2007 -- Iraq has confirmed that the United States, Iran and Syria will participate in a conference on the country's security.
Sami al-Askari, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, says officials from the United States, Syria, and Iran will participate in talks that will also include representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Al-Askari said the countries are currently negotiating the conference date. It is expected to take place in March. A senior Iranian official said Tehran will take part in the conference as long as it is in the interest of its neighbor.
The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, said Iran will do what it can to help resolve Iraq's problems.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced on February 27 that the United States and Iraq were launching an initiative to invite Iran and Syria to conferences on stabilizing Iraq.
The United States had been under pressure to include Iran and Syria in security talks.
The White House said today that U.S. attendance at the conference does not mean Washington will seek diplomatic dialogue with Tehran.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said there will not be any bilateral talks between the United States and Iran or the United States and Syria in the meetings in Baghdad in March and in April.
Snow said there were many contacts with the Iranians with regard to Afghanistan throughout 2002 and 2003. He said there was also an offer by the United States to work diplomatically with the Iranians on border issues concerning Iraq.
He said Washington is "not engaging in diplomatic recognition of Iran."
(compiled from agency reports)