March 08, 2007

The Iraq Talks


From Reuters: U.S. will not rebuff Iran, Syria on talks about Iraq.

The United States on Thursday sent its clearest signal yet it is open to bilateral talks with Iran and Syria by saying it will not rebuff them if they wish to discuss stabilizing Iraq at a regional meeting this weekend.

"If we are approached over orange juice by the Syrians or the Iranians to discuss an Iraq-related issue that is germane to this topic -- stable, secure, peaceful, democratic Iraq -- we are not going to turn and walk away," David Satterfield, the State Department's Iraq coordinator, told reporters.

He said whether or not such talks were held would depend in part on the Syrian and Iranian stance at the Saturday conference in Baghdad, which will gather Iraq's neighbors as well as the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The United States accuses Iran and Syria of fomenting the insurgency in Iraq, where violence rages four years after U.S.-led forces invaded the country to topple former dictator Saddam Hussein.

Washington has accused Iranian elements of providing sophisticated roadside bombs used against the roughly 140,000 U.S. forces in Iraq. It accuses Syria of allowing militants to enter Iraq and harboring Baathists who support the insurgency.

Iran and Syria both deny fueling the violence in Iraq.

The United States, which has no diplomatic relations with Iran, has had contacts with Iranian officials in group settings -- including as recently as September -- but has resisted bilateral talks.

UPDATE I: Related ...
Iraqi insurgents being trained in Iran, U.S. says (CNN, April 11, 2007)
US troops attacked by Iranian military last year (The Jerusalem Post, March 25, 2007)
Iran's influence grows in Iraq, region (Chicago Tribune, March 7, 2007)
Iraqi extremists trained in Iran: US intelligence (AFP, February 28, 2007)
Military: more evidence of Iran-made explosives (Seattle Times, February 27, 2007)
U.S.: Large Cache of Weapons Discovered in Iraq Traceable to Iran (AP via FOX News, February 26, 2007)
Iraqi insurgents using Austrian rifles from Iran (The Telegraph, February 13, 2007)
Iran involvement suspected in Karbala compound attack (CNN, January 31, 2007)
Donkeys harboring weapons stopped at Iran-Iraq border (Army Times, November 2, 2006)
Barbero: Iran training Shiite insurgents (AP via Army Times, August 24, 2006)
Casey cites Iran hand in attacks by Iraqi Shiites (The Washington Times, June 23, 2006)
Rumsfeld accuses Iran of troublemaking in Iraq (AP via Army Times, March 7, 2006)
EXCLUSIVE: Iraq Weapons -- Made in Iran? (ABC News, March 6, 2006)
Rumsfeld: Iraq bombs 'clearly from Iran' (CNN, August 10, 2005)

UDPATE II -- March 10: From MSNBC: U.S., Iranian envoys hold direct talks on Iraq.

In their first direct talks since the Iraq war began, U.S. and Iranian envoys traded harsh words and blamed each other for the country’s crisis Saturday at a one-day international conference that some hoped would help end their 27-year diplomatic freeze. ...

During the talks, U.S. envoy David Satterfield pointed to his briefcase which he said contained documents proving Iran was arming Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq.

“Your accusations are merely a cover for your failures in Iraq,” Iran’s chief envoy Abbas Araghchi shot back, according to an official familiar to the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

UDPATE III -- March 11: From MSNBC: Bush presses Iran, Syria to help Iraq.

President Bush said Sunday that Iran and Syria need to follow through on pledges to help Iraq, but left the door open to additional contacts between Washington and its chief Mideast foes.

"If they really want to help stabilize Iraq, there are things for them to do, such as cutting off weapons flows and or the flow of suicide bombers into Iraq," Bush said during an appearance here with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Posted by Forkum at March 8, 2007 04:50 PM