Iran and the United States may hold bilateral talks about Iraq.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the idea emerged from a recent conference in Egypt. The conference was attended by the foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors, officials of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and representatives of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. "We all made a commitment there to do what we can to help the Iraqis," said Ms. Rice. "And one of the most important things . . . .to help the Iraqis is dealing with their border issues, with the flow of foreign fighters and arms across the border."
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says the discussions with Iran "will put to the test the rhetoric that Iran continues to use with respect to Iraq":
"They continue to say that they wish to be a positive force, that they wish to help [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Nouri] Maliki and his government to achieve their objectives. Unfortunately, the rhetoric has never been matched by actions. So we'll see. We'll have an opportunity to discuss the various issues that are out there – with respect to Iran's interference in Iraq, from the provision of I-E-Ds [improvised explosive devices] and other weaponry, from their support for militias and other kinds of interference in Iraq's internal affairs."
Ultimately, says State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey, "the test will be, not whether people meet and have a discussion, the test will be whether there's any change in Iranian behavior."