The White House said on Tuesday that the Bush administration's decision to have talks with Iran on Iraq's security is a continuation of its policy toward Iran.
"A year ago there was also a Baghdad channel made available for dealing with Iraqi security issues where the then-ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, was also empowered to talk with Iranian officials on matters dealing with border security," White House spokesman Tony Snow told a news briefing.
"It is not only not unusual, but it's not unprecedented," Snow said, noting "it does not in any way, shape or form confer upon the Iranians full diplomatic status. And it does not give them the things that they want."
"Nor does it change the series of sanctions that have been ongoing. Nor does it change ongoing diplomacy to firm up international resolve when it comes to the behavior of the Iranians."
The spokesman said the United States prefer to use diplomacy as effectively as possible to solve Iran's nuclear issues.
The United States and other four permanent members of the UN Security Council -- China, Russia, Britain and France -- and Germany "are trying to use leverage -- diplomatic, economic and otherwise -- to get the Iranians to realize that moving down the road toward nuclear development is something that is not good for them and not for the region," Snow said.
Both the United States and Iran announced Sunday that their officials will in the coming weeks to discuss Iraq's security.
The planned talks will involve U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who met briefly with a deputy foreign minister of Iran in early May when they were attending a two-day international conference on Iraqi security held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
"This is not about the United States and Iran. This is about Iraq. This is about Iran playing a constructive policy role inside Iraq," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Washington has no diplomatic relations with Tehran since April 1980, five months after Iranian students occupied the American embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.