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Iraqi FM: Date to be set for next round of Iran-US talks on Iraq's security

Iraqi FM: Date to be set for next round of Iran-US talks on Iraq's security

A date for a fourth round of Iran-U.S. talks on Iraq's security will be set before mid-March, Iraq's foreign minister said Thursday, two weeks after Tehran postponed a previously scheduled expert-level meeting with U.S. diplomats.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra TV there had been "technical difficulties" in getting the two sides together. But a date for the next session will be confirmed before March 15, he said without elaborating.
Iraqi officials serve as the go-between in arranging the talks, which focus on how to deal with Iraq's security, and sit in on the discussions.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Philip Reeker said any announcement on dates for the next meeting should come from the Iraqis.
After being informed of Zebari's remarks, Reeker said, "that sounds perfectly plausible to me. What I don't have is any date to announce."
He reiterated the American stance that they are ready to sit down with the Iranians, but noted that "there have been some false starts in terms of the dates being set and not working out."
The U.S. and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the taking of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
A meeting last May between the American and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq broke the 27-year diplomatic freeze between the two countries. The two met again late last summer and there has been one other meeting at the expert level.
But Iran postponed a fourth round of talks previously slated for Feb. 15 without giving a reason.
Zebari's announcement comes ahead of Sunday's landmark visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq. Though Iraq under Saddam Hussein launched a brutal eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s, relations have improved since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Many of Iraq's senior Shiite politicians lived in exile in Iran during the 35-year rule of Saddam's Baath party, and maintain close ties to Iran's leadership.
Reeker said Ahmadinejad's visit "could be a catalyst for a coherent Iranian policy that benefits Iraq's long-term stability and that would be a good thing."
He said the Americans welcomed the Iranians' stated policy of promoting a stable, democratic Iraq but had yet to see evidence that it was working toward such a goal.
"It would be positive to hear that Iran is going to take steps to bring their actions on the ground ... into line with their stated policy," Reeker said. "Iran's actual acts on the ground have seemed to be directed more toward a destabilized society."


Updated : 2021-04-15 13:49 GMT+08:00