Report: U.S. and Iranian officials to meet "soon"
May 07, 2007
Fars News Agency:
Iraq's foreign minister said Sunday that he expects to soon see "substantive discussions" among US, Iranian and Iraqi diplomats on improving security and stability in his country. But it was unclear if the United States and Iran had agreed to a meeting.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hoshyar Zebari said a ministerial conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh last week was "very successful" because Iraq's neighbors and key international players condemned terrorism, reaffirmed their obligation to combat it and supported his government's efforts to strengthen national unity and end violence.
Senior Iranian, Iraqi and US diplomats met, but US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki only exchanged pleasantries and passed up the chance at what would, otherwise, have been the first public, high-level, face-to-face talks since the US broke off relations following the 1979 revolution in Iran.
Zebari said there was never any planned Rice-Mottaki meeting, just a "personal encounter" that was supposed to take place at a Thursday night dinner where the US and Iranian ministers were to be seated across from each other. But Mottaki skipped the meal, saying he objected to a violinist's sleeveless, low-cut dress and a bar within view of the table.
US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and US Iraq coordinator David Satterfield met Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, Friday morning.
Zebari said the meeting - which the Iranians said lasted 3 to 4 minutes - "would be followed up." He said he suggested "substantive discussions" in Baghdad between American, Iranian and Iraqi diplomats.
Asked when he thought the meeting might happen, Zebari said, "I think soon."I've long advocated direct talks with Iran. It's important to recognize, though, that if a meeting follows these overtures, it will only be half the battle. The administration has resisted face-to-face negotiations because of the belief -- widespread among neocons and other hawks -- that negotiating with Iran is some kind of reward unto itself. That belief, in turn, has its roots in the idea that Iran is a rogue nation and the U.S. is not.