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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Ready to Consider Higher Level Talks with US over Iraq

25 July 2007

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency says Tehran is ready to consider higher level talks with the United States regarding security in Iraq.

The report quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying that the possibility of talks between Iran and the U.S. about Iraq "at the level of deputy foreign ministers can be studied."

Mottaki's remark came a day after U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq held a second round of talks on Iraq's security.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said there were some "heated exchanges" Tuesday when he told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, that Iranian support for Shi'ite militias in Iraq has risen since they held a first round of talks on the issue in May.

Iran has denied supplying weapons and training to Shi'ite militias in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened Tuesday's meeting by appealing to Iran and the U.S. to help stabilize his country.

Iran, Iraq, and the U.S. agreed to create a security committee on Iraq, but details remain to be worked out.

The United States had said the talks would focus solely on the security situation in Iraq, despite tensions over Iran's nuclear program and Iranian-Americans detained by Tehran.

The United States and Iran have had little official contact for 27 years.

The United States broke diplomatic relations in April, 1980 after Iranian activists seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took its staff hostage.

Relations between Iran and Iraq have improved since the ouster of Saddam Hussein as Iraqi leader. Both countries have Shi'ite majorities. Saddam's Sunni-led government fought Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

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

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