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Iran Says It's Ready To Help U.S. With Iraq

17 November 2004 -- Iranian President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami says his country is ready to help the United States get out of what he calls a quagmire in neighboring Iraq but remains unwilling to engage in any direct talks.

After a cabinet meeting, Khatami said that in order to save the Iraqi people, Iran will support any solution that seems to promise the lowest cost for Iraq.

He said, however, that there could be negotiations between Iran and the United States only if U.S. leaders change their attitude toward Iran.

An international conference on Iraq has been scheduled for next week in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. Iran's Foreign Ministry says that Tehran will be sending a message to the United States during the meetings, but will not engage in direct talks.

Khatami also warned European countries that they must abide by a recent agreement to back Iran in possible U.S.-led calls for sanctions against Iran over what Washington has suggested is a covert nuclear-weapons program. The deal was reached with Britain, Germany, and France.

The first test of that agreement is expected to come at a late-November meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).