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FM: Iran accepts new round of talks with U.S. over Iraq
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17:24, November 20, 2007

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Iran on Tuesday welcomed a U.S. request for a new round of talks between the two foes over Iraq security issue, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki voiced the willingness to reporters alongside his visiting Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem, said IRNA.

Washington has recently made an offer for the new talks via the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which looks after US interests in Iran since they broke diplomatic relations 27 years ago.

"The Swiss embassy in Iran passed on the message of the U.S. government for a new round of talks on Iraq to my colleagues in the foreign ministry," Mottaki was quoted as saying.

"Iran has responded positively to the U.S. request, and the talks would be held within the framework of assisting the Iraqi people and the security situation," he said, adding "the exact date of the next round of the talks will be announced later but it will be conducted anyway".

Iran and the U.S. have already held three rounds of talks over Iraq's security issue this year.

Iranian ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi Qomi and his U.S. counterpart Ryan Crocker have held two rounds of face-to-face discussions on May 28 and July 24, and the two side also met at a expert level on August 6.

However, all the talks failed to achieve a big breakthrough and since then no meeting has been held again.

Mottaki's Tuesday announcement came at a time when the two countries' relationship had escalated a lot in the past months due to Tehran's disputed nuclear case.

The United State has repeatedly accused Iran of providing weapons and funds to the insurgents to help them fight with coalition forces in Iraq.

Tensions between them have surged in the last weeks with Washington pressing for a third UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions against Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran has denied all the accusations, saying "the U.S. just wanted to find excuses for its failed policies in Iraq" and its was the existence of U.S. forces made that war-tore country unstable.


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