Reuters: Iran and the United States will hold a second round of talks about Iraq’s security shortly, to follow up a landmark meeting held in May, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Tuesday. By Mariam Karouny
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iran and the United States will hold a second round of talks about Iraq’s security shortly, to follow up a landmark meeting held in May, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Tuesday.
Washington accuses Iran of fomenting sectarian violence in Iraq. Shi’ite Iran denies backing the insurgency in Iraq and blames the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 for the bloodshed between Iraq’s majority Shi’ite and minority Sunni Arabs.
But the worsening chaos has pushed the two countries, which have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after Iran’s 1979 revolution, to seek common ground on Iraq.
“I can confirm that there will be a second round of talks in Baghdad soon. It will be at the ambassadorial level. Iraq will be there and the talks will be about Iraq’s stability and security,” Zebari told Reuters by telephone.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters he saw a “high possibility” a second round would take place in the “near future”.
Underlining the sense of chaos, at least four people were killed and five others wounded by a car bomb inside a parking lot opposite the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, police said.
The Iranian and the U.S. ambassadors to Iraq last met in Baghdad on May 28 — the most high-profile meeting of the two foes in almost three decades.
The United States has been leading diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions — but both sides say any talks on Iraq will not deal with other disputes.
Washington is pressing for power-sharing laws to help reconcile Iraq’s Shi’ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds.
In a sign that Iraq’s deeply divided politicians might be bridging some of their many differences, the bloc of the anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said it had ended a boycott of parliament.
“Starting from today, we have ended our suspension in parliament. We are back,” said Nassar al-Rubaei, spokesman for the bloc in parliament.
The movement occupies 30 of parliament’s 275 seats, a quarter of the total held by the ruling Shi’ite Alliance of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Rubaei said the bloc had received assurances from parliament over demands for the government to protect shrines.
It had withdrawn from parliament on June 13 after the twin minarets of the Golden Mosque in Samarra were destroyed by suspected Sunni Islamist al Qaeda militants.
It complained Maliki’s government had not done enough to protect the shrine.
Forty-four parliamentarians from the Sunni Accordance Front pulled out of parliament last month after a senior member of their alliance was ousted as speaker. They have not returned and their ministers are boycotting cabinet meetings.
(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran)