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Iran's aid for Iraqi militias rising: US
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09:13, July 25, 2007

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Iranian support for militias who are destabilizing Iraq has risen since the United States and Iran held breakthrough talks in Baghdad in May, the US envoy to Iraq said yesterday after a fresh round of discussions.

Ryan Crocker told a news conference after talks on Iraq's security crisis with his Iranian counterpart that much of the dialogue was "not terribly relevant".

"The two months since May have not exactly been encouraging," Crocker said after meeting Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi for several hours.

"The fact is, and we made very clear in today's talk, that over the roughly two months we have actually seen militia-related activities that can be attributed to Iranian support go up and not down."

There was no immediate response from the Iranian delegation.

Washington accuses Shi'ite Muslim Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq. Iran denies the charge and blames the US-led invasion in 2003 for the bloodshed between Iraq's majority Shi'ite and minority Sunni Arabs.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki earlier urged the two sides to help Iraq and warned that insurgent groups like Al-Qaida were moving to other countries after they were hit in Iraq.

The first round of talks between Crocker and Kazemi-Qomi on May 28 had ended a long diplomatic freeze between the two countries.

Crocker refused to be drawn on whether there would be a third round.

The latest round took place less than two months before Crocker and US military commander General David Petraeus have to present a crucial report to the US Congress on Iraq's political and security progress.

Sectarian violence and worsening chaos in Iraq has pushed the United States and Iran, which have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after Iran's 1979 revolution, to seek common ground.

Security subcommittee

The United States, Iran and Iraq have agreed to set up a security subcommittee to carry forward talks on restoring stability in Iraq, Crocker said.

"We discussed ways forward, and one of the issues we discussed was the formation of a security subcommittee that would address at an expert or technical level some issues relating to security, be that support for violent militias, Al-Qaida or border security," the US ambassador said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said experts would meet as early as today to work out the structure and mechanism of the committee.

Source: China Daily/agencies

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