AFP: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Thursday urged Iran to attend an international conference on his country’s security next month, during talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. TEHRAN, April 26, 2007 (AFP) – Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Thursday urged Iran to attend an international conference on his country’s security next month, during talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran has still to make up its mind whether to attend the May 3-4 conference of foreign ministers in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, saying it was waiting for Zebari’s visit before making an announcement.
“Pointing to the very important role of Iran in the region, Zebari requested the participation of Iran in the conference that will study the Iraq issue in Sharm el-Sheikh,” the state run IRNA agency quoted him as saying.
“Today the Iraqi government must be alert and stand firm,” Ahmadinejad said, assuring Zebari that Iran would “remain at Iraq’s side.”
The agency did not reveal any response by Ahmadinejad to Zebari’s request but Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had said after talks late Wednesday that Iran would soon announce its position.
“No decision has been taken and we will inform you in the coming days whether we will participate or whether we will not participate,” Mottaki said.
Iranian officials have expressed dissatisfaction about attending a conference where world powers, including its arch foe the United States, will be represented as well as the choice of the Red Sea resort as the venue. They would prefer the meeting to comprise only regional leaders.
Tehran’s attendance also appears to be complicated by the continued detention by Washington in Iraq of five Iranian officials it arrested in January on accusations of seeking to stir trouble there.
Zebari and other Iraqi officials have said it is vital its influential neighbour turns up at a time of mounting bloodshed in the country.
US President George W. Bush has said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “could” hold talks with Mottaki at the conference but Iran has said it is too early to comment on this.