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Iran And Conference On Iraq

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack welcomed Iran's decision to attend the upcoming Iraq Compact and Expanded Iraq Neighbors conferences in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Mr. McCormack said he viewed Iran's attendance there to be a "positive" development.

Sixty-two official delegations will attend the Iraq Compact launch ceremony, while in a separate meeting the following day, the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and representatives of the Group of Eight Industrialized Nations are expected to attend the expanded Iraq Neighbors Ministerial meeting.

The Compact establishes a five-year economic reform roadmap with the international community, while the focus of the Neighbors Conference will be Iraq's efforts with its neighbors to promote Iraqi security, stability and political progress.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will lead both official delegations, commented on the purpose of the Expanded Neighbors conference:

"This is a meeting about Iraq and about what Iraq's neighbors and interested parties can do to help stabilize the situation in Iraq. If indeed everyone at that table believes that a stable Iraq is indeed in their interest, then there are steps that they need to start to take to help stabilize Iraq."

Ms. Rice said, "It's quite clear what needs to be done":

"Stop the flow of arms to foreign fighters, stop the flow of foreign fighters across the borders; stop using advanced I-E-D [improvised explosive device] technology to kill American soldiers; stop stirring up trouble among militias that then go and kill innocent Iraqis."

Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida'ie, said that Iraq wants to solve its own problems. "We are not seeking that our neighbors will devise a solution for us in Iraq. That has to done by Iraqis," he said. "But we ask them to step back and reduce their interference."

President George W. Bush said the Neighbors conference is an opportunity for "people to hear firsthand that the Iraqi government is, first and foremost, Iraqi. They are not interested in being anybody else's surrogate."