Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Iran-U.S. talks on Iraq to kick off Saturday in Baghdad

Mehr News Agency:
An official at the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said on Tuesday that talks between Iran and the United States on the security and stability of Iraq will take place on April 8.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told the Mehr News Agency that the Iranian delegation for the talks would be led by SNSC deputy secretaries Ali Hosseini-Tash or Aziz Jaafari, adding that Foreign Ministry officials would also participate in the talks.

“According to the previous agreements, the talks will take place in Baghdad with the U.S ambassador to Iraq,” he noted, adding that the negotiations would be held before the cameras at the request of Iran. READ MORE

Iran's charge d'affaires in Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, announced that an Iraqi representative would also participate in the negotiations.

Both Iran and the United States are in consensus that an Iraqi national unity government must be formed as soon as possible; however, the difference is that Tehran believes that the government should be formed based on the outcome of the elections, but Washington insists that it should be based on a compromise among the three main groups, the Shia Arabs, the Sunni Arabs, and the Kurds, Qomi added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday that the talks will only focus on Iraq and are in line with the Islamic Republic’s policy of helping Iraq defend its territorial integrity and supporting the Iraqi people at the request of the leaders of the neighboring country.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called for the Iran-U.S. talks to be expedited in a recent meeting with Iran's charge d'affaires in Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi voiced optimism that the upcoming talks would benefit the Iraqi people and the security of regional countries.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Mehr News Agency spoke to three MPs and a political analyst about the planned direct Iran-U.S. talks on Iraq.

International affairs analyst Ali-Reza Davari said that talks with the United States should be held on an equal footing and should be based on wisdom and dignity within the framework of national interests.

Iran’s approach for the talks should maintain the independence, identity, and dignity of the Islamic Republic and guarantee the utmost economic, political, and security benefits for the country, he noted.

“To this end, broader diplomatic activity is needed,” he pointed out.

He described the Iran-U.S. talks as a “positive step”.

MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said Iran should also gain nuclear concessions from the U.S. in the talks.

It is not right for Iran to help the U.S. solve its problems in Iraq while the United States is creating problems for Iran in the international arena, he noted.

In light of the fact that Iran’s nuclear dossier has been reported to the UN Security Council, where the U.S has the most power, negotiations with other countries at this juncture will be fruitless, the MP observed.

MP Hamid-Reza Hajbabaii said that the Iran-U.S. talks can reduce the pressure from both sides, although the nuclear issue is not on the agenda of the negotiations.

“The national interests of Iran have been intermingled with the national interests of Iraq, and the problem of the United States actually concerns these two countries in the region,” he stated.

MP Elham Aminzadeh said that stability in Iraq is very important for Iran, but it is more critical for the U.S. because it does not want to leave Iraq like it left Vietnam. Therefore, Iran should take its national interests into consideration in the talks, she added.