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Iran Calls Baghdad Conference 'A Good First Step'

March 11, 2007 -- Iran today termed the international conference on Iraq's security held in Baghdad the previous day as "serious and constructive" and pledged support for any effort to help stabilize its neighbor.

"It was a good first step," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said at a regular press conference today.

The conference brought together the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- as well as Iran and Syria, plus other states and regional organizations.

"We will fully support whatever plan or initiative guaranteeing security and stability in Iraq, and therefore [we] consider the Baghdad conference as an important step for supporting the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki," Hosseini said. "We hope that this conference will be a prologue for a conference at foreign ministry level."

He added, "We hope that other countries present at the Baghdad conference will change their political behaviour towards Iraq," according to dpa.

Iranian Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi had said the conference achieved its main aim, which was to support the al-Maliki government.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the conference ended with positive results. He also said that U.S. and Iranian delegates held a direct "lively exchange" at the conference, despite the long estrangement of the two countries.

U.S. military and other officials have accused Iran of training and supplying militants in Iraq, and have vowed to shut down any channels through which Iranians might be feeding the violence.

Zebari said delegates agreed on a second meeting as a follow-up to the March 10 forum.

(dpa, Reuter, AFP)

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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