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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Iran 'ready for more Iraq talks'
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
Mr Mottaki made the comments after a cabinet meeting
Iran has said it would consider holding higher-level talks with the US about Iraq, a day after their ambassadors in Baghdad held a landmark meeting.

Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran would consider meeting the US at deputy foreign minister level, if the US suggested it.

The US and Iranian ambassadors to Baghdad met on Tuesday.

It was only the second direct meeting between officials of this level in almost three decades.

At the meeting, both sides blamed each other for the violence in Iraq.

The US accused Iran of increasing its support for militia groups in Iraq in recent months, but Iran has denied this and said Iraqis were "victimised by terror and the presence of foreign forces".

However, the two sides did agree to form a security committee, with Iraq, to focus on containing Sunni insurgents.

Key players

"The talks between Iran and the United States over Iraq at the level of deputy foreign minister can be studied," Mr Mottaki told the state-run IRNA news agency.

"If America makes an official request in this regard it can be examined," he said.

If the talks go well, it could be determining for Iraq
Kazeem Jalali
Iranian MP

MP Kazem Jalali, the spokesman for Iran's parliamentary committee on foreign policy, backed the idea of higher-level talks.

"Iran and the US are key players in Iraq," he told the Associated Press news agency.

"If the talks go well, it could be determining for Iraq," he said.

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said after Tuesday's talks in Baghdad that he hoped the next round of talks would be at a higher level.

However, US ambassador Ryan Cocker warned that no progress could be made until Iranian actions changed on the ground.

Iraq has been pressing for more contact between Iran and the US as the two nations with the greatest influence on its future.

The US broke off relations with Iran in 1980 when Islamic revolutionaries seized the US embassy in Tehran and held many diplomats hostage.


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