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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tehran, Washington may soon hold new talks on Iraqi security

RIA Novosti

07/04/2008 11:58 TEHRAN, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Iran is studying a U.S. proposal to hold a fourth round of talks on Iraqi security in the near future, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The new round was originally scheduled for mid-February, but has been postponed twice for "technical reasons."

"We have received an official request from the United States to hold a new round of talks on Iraq and we are studying this proposal," Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference in Tehran.

The U.S. and Iran held their first three rounds of talks in Baghdad last summer, pledging to set up a three-party committee on Iraq's security and defense capabilities. They were the first direct talks between the two countries since they severed relations in 1979 following the Islamic Revolution which overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah.

Washington has previously accused Iran of providing training and weapons to militants in Iraq, plagued by violence since the formal end of the U.S.-led invasion of the Middle East state in 2003.

However, Tehran has repeatedly denied U.S. claims that the Islamic Republic sponsors terrorist groups in Iraq, and said "the ongoing U.S. occupation has destabilized the situation in the country and caused the suffering of the Iraqi people."

Violence has continued unabated in Iraq in the five years since the formal end of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Over 100 people have been killed in the past month in a series of bomb and mortar attacks throughout the country. The death toll among U.S. troops now stands at more than 4,000.

Speaking at the same news conference, the Iranian diplomat said that Tehran may announce new breakthroughs in its controversial nuclear program on Tuesday, including the construction of 10 advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

On April 8, a ceremony to mark National Nuclear Technology Day in Iran will be held at the Natanz nuclear site in the central Isfahan Province.

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