A Talabani spokesman quoted by Reuters denied earlier press reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might also be present at the talks.
On November 20, the Associated Press quoted unnamed key Iraqi lawmakers as saying that Iran had invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to Tehran to discuss ways to stop the violence in Iraq.
The United States has frequently accused Iran and Syria of fueling the violence in Iraq.
"While there have been positive statements from the Iranian government about wishing to a play a positive role in Iraq, those statements haven't been backed up by actions," U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said on November 20 in Washington. "And so very much what we'd like to see the Iranian government do is desist, first and foremost, from negative actions it's taken in Iraq."
Casey added that the United States has been disappointed by Damascus's failure to seal its border with Iraq.
"What we would like to see the Syrians do is take actions to, among other things, prevent foreign fighters from coming across the border into Iraq and again to back up the positive words that they have with some real concrete steps," Casey said. "I think as we have always said with respect to the Syrians, you know, the problem is not what they say, the problem is what they do."
(compiled from agency reports)
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."
LISTENListen to the complete RFE/RL briefing (about 75 minutes):
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