Iran, US Ambassadors to Meet May 28 in Iraq

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the end of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad, 17 May 2007 (AFP Photo)

Iran and the United States are to meet at ambassador level in Iraq on May 28 to discuss its security situation, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Thursday in Islamabad.

Announcing the date for the first time, Mottaki -- whose country is at the centre of international concerns about its nuclear programme -- insisted the talks between the arch-foes would only deal with the unrest in Iraq.

"Nothing but Iraq is on the agenda for Iran and US talks," he told reporters during a conference of Islamic foreign ministers here.

"The talks will strictly be focused on the security situation in Iraq," he added, saying the meeting would be held in the presence of Iraqi officials.

Iranian officials had announced several days ago that the rare encounter would take place within the next few weeks, most likely in Baghdad.

Relations between Tehran and Washington, frozen for nearly three decades, have been bedeviled by the situation in Iraq, where the United States accuses Iran of aiding militant Shiite groups and attacking US forces.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday punctured any expectation that the latest meeting would produce a breakthrough, saying its policy of not negotiating with the United States was unchanged.

The United States insisted Monday that the talks did not presage a retreat from its policy to isolate the Islamic republic, with White House spokesman Tony Snow saying the contacts will be "about Iraq and only Iraq."

Two weeks ago hopes were dashed that Iran and the United States would hold substantive talks at a conference on Iraq's security in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

At that meeting, Mottaki barely exchanged pleasantries with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice while a lower-level encounter between high-ranking diplomats lasted just minutes.

Source: AFP

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