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Iraq Urges Obama to Open Dialogue with Iran

By VOA News
11 December 2008

Iraq is urging U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his incoming administration to open a dialogue with Iran to help solve Middle East problems.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh made the appeal in a statement Thursday following a visit to Washington. Mr. Obama has promised to shift U.S. policy on Iran when he takes office next month by seeking direct talks with Iran's leaders.

The Bush administration has held several rounds of talks with Iranian officials in Baghdad, but restricted the agenda to Iraq's security situation and refused to discuss other issues.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government is friendly toward Iran, also a majority Shi'ite country, and has encouraged U.S.-Iranian dialogue before.

Iraqi spokesman Al-Dabbagh says the time has come for a new policy in the region that respects international law and avoids the use of military force.

President-elect Obama said in an interview Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press that he is prepared to offer Iran economic incentives to stop its controversial nuclear program. But, he warned that the international community could tighten sanctions on Iran if it refuses.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. and its allies are willing to talk to Iran's government directly and give it a clear choice on the issue.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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