The White House said Thursday that it is prepared to talk with Iran about Iraq, but the discussion will be limited to Iraqi issue only and not include Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program and other disputed subjects.
U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad is authorized to talk with Iran about Iraq, much as the United States has talked with Iran about issues relating to Afghanistan, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
"This is a very narrow mandate dealing specifically with issues relating to Iraq," McClellan said, noting U.S. concerns about Iran 's nuclear program are being dealt with at the United Nations.
"That's a separate issue from this," he said.
The White House made the announcement after Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator and secretary of the country's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran was ready to open direct talks with the United States over Iraq.
Ever since the outbreak of war on Iraq, the United States has kept accusing Iran of meddling in Iraq's affairs and of sending weapons and men to help insurgents in Iraq.