News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran attendance at Iraq conference is 'positive'-US

Iran attendance at Iraq conference is ‘positive’-US

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Reuters: The United States said on Monday it was “positive” that Iran will attend a conference in Egypt this week to discuss stabilizing Iraq but declined to say whether there will be bilateral U.S.-Iranian talks there. WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) – The United States said on Monday it was “positive” that Iran will attend a conference in Egypt this week to discuss stabilizing Iraq but declined to say whether there will be bilateral U.S.-Iranian talks there.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will travel to Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the meeting on Thursday and Friday, which will gather Iraq’s neighbors and members of the Group of Eight nations and the European Union.

“It’s positive that they have chosen to attend the conference,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. “We would just urge Iran, as we would any of the participants in the conference, to take full advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate their support for Iraq.”

The United States has accused Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq — something Tehran denies — and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for an end to the flow of arms and foreign fighters into Iraq.

Asked if Rice would hold bilateral talks with officials from Iran or Syria, which the United States also accuses of fueling the strife in Iraq, the spokesman said only that he could not rule out the possibility.

Iran blames the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 for violence that is threatening to tear Iraq apart and to leach into neighboring countries.

The Bush administration has been reluctant to engage Iran, fearful that Tehran might demand U.S. acquiescence over its nuclear program in exchange for help to stabilize Iraq.

The United States accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is to generate electricity and it has so far refused a Western offer of incentives and broad negotiations if it suspends its uranium enrichment activities.

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