NewsSpecial WireRice wants Iran to take part in Iraq conference

Rice wants Iran to take part in Iraq conference

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Iran Focus: London, Apr. 24 – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would like to see Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki take part in a conference on Iraqi security which is taking place in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, in the first week of May. Iran Focus

London, Apr. 24 – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would like to see Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki take part in a conference on Iraqi security which is taking place in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, in the first week of May.

“We will defend our interests and our allies in the Gulf, which is frankly the reason for the carrier strike group and the PAC-3s. I think we’ve demonstrated that we are going to engage in force protection and not permit Iranian personnel who are engaged in activities that are harmful to our soldiers to simply go unchecked”, Rice told the Financial Times, according to the text of the interview posted on the State Department’s website on Monday.

Questioned on the fact that Iran had not yet confirmed whether Mottaki would attend the Sharm al-Sheikh meeting, Rice said, “It’ll be a missed opportunity if he doesn’t, but obviously it’s up to the Iranian government”.

Rice also touched on the international standoff over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. “There are all kinds of ways that Iran could develop civil nuclear power without the proliferation risk that is concerning to everybody, and we have been completely committed to a diplomatic course, supporting Javier Solana in what he’s doing, saying that once enrichment and reprocessing stop and are halted by the Iranians — the suspension, that there would be — I would come to the table, too. It would reverse 27 years of policy. We can talk about anything. We didn’t say we’ll come and we have to talk about these little things. Thus far, Iran has chosen not to take up that path”.

Rice denied that the Bush Administration sought “regime change” in Iran, insisting that Washington wanted instead to see a “change in regime behaviour” in Tehran.

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