The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Mixed Prospects for Iraq Regional Conference

Council on Foreign Relations

March 7, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

All eyes will be on Iran and the United States at the March 10 conference in Baghdad (CNN). The meeting, which will focus on security, marks the first time officials from either country have met face-to-face since 2004. The Bush administration previously rejected entreaties to negotiate directly with Iran. Now the president says, “Diplomacy is going to play an important part in securing Iraq's future.” Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad will represent the United States at the ministerial-level meeting on Saturday.

The conference comes amid escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington over Iran's involvement in Iraq, its defiance of UN Security Council resolutions to suspend its nuclear program, and its support for organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. But some, including CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Vali R. Nasr, argue that Iran's and the United States' goals in Iraq overlap. “Iran still doesn't want a civil war there, doesn't want a failed state,” he tells's Bernard Gwertzman. “And Iran wants the same government as we're working with in Baghdad to succeed.”

CFR Fellow Steven Cook applauds the White House's about-face on Iran. “It should be part of our foreign policy to be talking to the Iranians and the Syrians,” he tells Gwertzman. Still, neither Tehran nor Washington says it will seek direct talks on the sidelines of the meeting. But experts are not ruling out the possibility (Tehran Times). In this new interview, CFR Senior Fellow Steven Simon says the talks may “build some trust” between the United States and Iran, “but frankly I think that the suspicion on both sides is so deep right now that that sort of thing seems highly unlikely.”

Read the rest of this article on the website.

Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

Join the mailing list