News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIran says new talks likely with U.S. soon on...

Iran says new talks likely with U.S. soon on Iraq

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Reuters: Iran and the United States were likely to hold a new round of talks soon about the security situation in Iraq, a senior Iranian official said on Friday. TEHRAN, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Iran and the United States were likely to hold a new round of talks soon about the security situation in Iraq, a senior Iranian official said on Friday.

A meeting scheduled for earlier this month was postponed by Iran for what it called technical reasons, prompting Washington to question Tehran’s commitment to dialogue.

“This (next) round … is at the level of experts and will be in line with deepening and strengthening the security of the Iraqi people and I think it will take place soon,” said Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

Jalili, also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, did not give a date when he made his remarks at a news conference called to give Tehran’s reaction to a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on the country’s disputed atomic activities.

The U.S.-Iranian talks on Iraq are one of the few forums in which officials from the two arch-foes have direct contact. Diplomatic ties between Washington and Tehran have been frozen for almost three decades.

The United States accuses Iran of destabilising Iraq. Tehran blames the U.S. military presence for the unrest.

The U.S. military said this week it had proof Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militias in Iraq were increasingly using secret weapons stores to attack U.S. and Iraqi forces. Washington says the militias get weapons, funding and training from Iran.

Iran regularly dismisses such charges.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to visit Iraq on March 2, a trip analysts say Tehran aims to use to show it has close relations with the Iraqi government despite the U.S. allegations. Tehran says it wants a stable and secure neighbour.

The trip will be the first to Baghdad by a president of the Islamic Republic, which fought an eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s. (Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian)

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