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Iran Nixes Direct U.S. Talks 'For The Time Being'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki (file photo) (Photolur) May 26, 2006 -- Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki says Iran has ruled out "for the time being" holding direct talks with the United States over the situation in Iraq, where Mottaki arrived for the first visit by an senior official since hard-liner Mahmud Ahmadinejad won the Iranian presidency in June.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has said he is ready to talk with the Iranians about Iraq.

But Mottaki today said that Tehran's initial interest in holding talks on Iraq had been exploited by the United States. He said U.S. officials raised "other issues," but did not elaborate.

The United States and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, are discussing possible moves to dissuade Iran from pursuing its current nuclear course.

Mottaki was speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, in Baghdad. Mottaki was also due to hold talks with new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al-Maliki, less than a week after he formed his government.

(compiled from agency reports)