Reuters: Iran is studying a request from Baghdad for another round of talks between U.S. and Iranian officials and a decision may take more than two weeks, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran is studying a request from Baghdad for another round of talks between U.S. and Iranian officials and a decision may take more than two weeks, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday.
The minister, who was quoted by Iran’s ISNA news agency, said Iran would study such a request with a “positive view”.
Both sides described as positive the first round of discussions in Baghdad in May. Those talks covered security in Iraq and both U.S. and Iranian officials say Iraqi issues, not other disputes, will be the focus for any further talks.
Alongside the violence in Iraq, which Washington says Tehran is stirring up, the two sides are at loggerheads over Iran’s nuclear program. Washington says Tehran’s atomic plans are aimed at building bombs, a charge Iran denies.
Mottaki, whose comments were originally made in an interview with Iranian Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam, said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his deputy, Barham Salih, had made a request for more talks.
“We are studying the request of the Iraqi officials. As soon as this review finishes, we will announce our position to the Iraqi government,” Mottaki said, adding that the review could take more than one or two weeks.
Mottaki said Iran did not see a “clear plan” on the side of the United States to “exit the current situation” in Iraq.
Iran denies any role in stirring up violence in Iraq and has called for the immediate release of five Iranians seized by U.S. forces in January, saying they are diplomats. Washington says the five were backing militants in Iraq.
Mottaki denied any link, which some analysts have made, between the five detained Iranians and the detention of three U.S.-Iranians in Iran. Those three dual nationals and a fourth out on bail face security-related charges.
“If some people commit acts against our country’s law … there will be legal consequences,” he said.
Washington cut ties with Iran in April 1980, five months after Iranian students occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took U.S. citizens hostage. Fifty-two Americans were ultimately held hostage for 444 days.
Despite the 27-year freeze in formal ties, mid-ranking officials from the two countries have met occasionally, most recently and prior to the latest talks, they discussed Afghanistan at the time of the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban.