Wednesday, June 14, 2006

'Iran no longer interested in US talks on Iraq'

Iran is no longer interested in direct talks with the United States over the situation in Iraq, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said in an interview broadcast, AFP reported.

"The Iranians have indicated they no longer have any interest in doing that," Hadley said, when asked in an interview with CNN if US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, will be meeting with Iranian diplomats in Baghdad. READ MORE

"Where we have focused in terms of our diplomacy with the Iranians, of course, is on the nuclear issue," said Hadley.

"If the Iranians will suspend their nuclear enrichment activity which we believe is part of the path to a nuclear weapon, then we would be willing to join France, Britain, Germany, possibly Russia and China to sit down and try and negotiate a permanent solution to that problem," he said.

"So the forum for negotiations really has moved to the nuclear issue in the context I described, and we're hopeful that Iran will, the Iranian regime will see it in their interest to accept this offer and return to negotiations. And we can begin discussing this issue directly.

Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz Hakim called for direct talks between Iran and the United States over the situation in Iraq in April, a decision Iran said it was amenable to.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice authorized Khalilzad to reach out to the Iranians, and up to late May US officials were saying that talks could go forward, even though Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by then had said the talks would be of no use.

Iran and the United States have had testy relations for decades, exacerbated in recent months over Iran's enrichment of uranium, which Iran says is for nuclear power, while the United States and other countries fear it could be used for bombs.