News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran says U.S. requests new talks on Iraq security

Iran says U.S. requests new talks on Iraq security

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Reuters: Iran said on Monday it had received a request from the United States for a new round of talks on ways to improve security in Iraq and was considering it. TEHRAN, April 7 (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it had received a request from the United States for a new round of talks on ways to improve security in Iraq and was considering it.

Easing a diplomatic freeze lasting almost three decades, Iranian and U.S. officials met three times in Baghdad last year, but a planned fourth meeting has been repeatedly postponed.

The United States accuses Iran of stoking violence in its neighbour by funding, training and equipping Iraqi militants. Iran denies this and blames the presence of U.S. troops for the bloodshed.

“We have received a new request by American officials in a formal note for the holding of negotiations on the Iraqi developments and we are looking into the case,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference.

He said the U.S. note had been delivered via the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which handles U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic. The United States severed ties with Iran about a year after its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

U.S. and Iraqi officials in Baghdad were not immediately available for comment.

The adviser of a leading Iraqi politician was also quoted last week as saying the United States had asked for a new meeting with Iranian and Iraqi officials.

Mohsen Hakim, whose father Abdul Aziz al-Hakim heads the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), told Iran’s Mehr News Agency in an interview published on Friday:

“In the last week, America has requested a new round of trilateral talks with Iran and Iraq and announced that the reason for the delay of the fourth round of talks had been technical issues.”

Shi’ite Iran’s influence in Iraq has grown since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Sunni Arab strongman Saddam Hussein, Tehran’s sworn enemy.

U.S. President George W. Bush said last month he wanted to send a “clear message” to Iran that it could not have its way in the Middle East.

Washington and Tehran are also embroiled in a deepening standoff over Iran’s disputed nuclear plans, which the West suspects are aimed at making nuclear bombs. Tehran denies this and says the aim of its nuclear programme is solely to generate electricity. (Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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