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)
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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