Friday, March 17, 2006

U.S. accuses Iran of "unhelpful activities" in Iraq

U.S. officials in Iraq on Friday again accused Iran of meddling in its neighbour's internal affairs, saying the Islamic Republic was carrying out "unhelpful activities" there.

A U.S. embassy statement said Washington was "concerned about unhelpful Iranian activities in Iraq. These concerns are well known and we have talked about them." READ MORE

The statement was issued one day after Iran said it accepted a proposal by a leading Iraqi Shi'ite leader to open a dialogue with the United States on Iraq.

Also on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she believed U.S. talks with Iran on stabilising Iraq would be "useful".

Iranian officials had previously said Tehran was not interested in discussions before U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq.

The United States, which is leading diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions, accuses Iran of contributing to instability in Iraq. Iran denies the charges.

Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Tehran accepted "the proposal to help resolve the problems in Iraq and establish an independent government there".

But the embassy statement responding to his comments, said: "the future of Iraq will not be decided by the United States, Iran or any other country. Iraqis will decide the future of Iraq.

It noted that U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been authorised by the White House to enter into talks with Iran on the issue.