News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqU.S. denies asking for Iranian help in Iraq

U.S. denies asking for Iranian help in Iraq

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Reuters: The U.S. ambassador in Baghdad denied on Sunday seeking Iran’s help to calm violence in Iraq.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador in Baghdad denied on Sunday seeking Iran’s help to calm violence in Iraq.

The Sunday Times newspaper said journalists in Tehran had been shown a letter by a senior Iranian intelligence agent that was purportedly from U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and which invited Iran to send representatives to talks in Iraq.

“Ambassador Khalilzad has the authority to meet with Iranian officials to discuss issues of mutual concern,” the embassy said in a statement.

“But he has not sent a letter in any language to the Iranians.”

The newspaper said the letter was written in Farsi, which the Afghan-born ambassador speaks.

Tehran was open to a meeting, the paper said, citing a source close to the Iranian government, but it would have to be in a neutral country. Iran hoped this might eventually enable them to have a dialogue about Iran’s nuclear programme, the paper said.

The U.S. and Iran have been arch foes, without diplomatic relations, since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Tensions are high right now over Iran’s insistence on developing nuclear power reactors, a move staunchly opposed by the U.S. and other Western powers who accuse Tehran of secretly trying to build atomic weapons.

Some analysts and Iraqi politicians say Iran, close to many of the leaders of Iraq’s new, ruling Shi’ite Islamist parties, has an interest in promoting some instability in Iraq to divert U.S. pressure on itself.

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said recently that Iran was meddling in Iraq by sending Revolutionary Guards forces into the country.

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