17 July 2007
Talks with Iran over Iraqi Security Appropriate, U.S. Says
State's McCormack says Iran capable of playing "positive, responsible role"
Washington -- The Bush administration says it is "appropriate" for the United States and Iran to hold a second round of direct talks over the situation in Iraq, but said no date for such a meeting has been set.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters July 17 that "given the situation in Iraq and that given Iran's continued behavior that is leading to further instability in Iraq … it would be appropriate to have another face-to-face meeting," following U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker's discussions with Iranian officials in Baghdad, Iraq, May 28. (See related article.)
McCormack said Crocker is prepared to talk to his Iranian counterparts to "directly convey to the Iranian authorities that … if they wish to see a more stable, secure, peaceful Iraq, which is what they have said they would like to see, that they need to change their behavior."
Iran can play a "positive, responsible role" in the country, he said, and a change in behavior is important not only for the safety of coalition troops in Iraq, but also for Iraq's future.
"They need to stop supporting sectarian militias that are exacerbating sectarian tensions. They need to stop supporting [explosively formed penetrator] networks that pose a direct threat to our troops," McCormack said.
The spokesman later said Iran has voiced support for "strategic stability" in Iraq, adding "if that is, in fact, the case, they're certainly going about it … in the wrong way."
Iran previously has demonstrated its ability to play a positive role in Afghanistan, he said. "[T]he history of Iranian involvement in Afghanistan over the past several years has overall been a relatively positive one, the caveat being some of their more recent activities." (See related article.)
No date has been set for direct discussions, and McCormack said any talks would focus on "issues related solely to Iraq," and would not serve as a "negotiating channel."
For more information on U.S. policies, see Iraq Update.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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