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Talks On Iraq With Iran

Talks On Iraq With Iran

On July 24th, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi, and senior Iraqi officials took part in a second round of sometimes difficult talks in Baghdad on issues relating to Iraq's security. Both sides, said Ambassador Crocker, agreed on certain matters. "As was the case in May," he said, "both Iran and the United States support a democratic, stable Iraq." And, he said, all sides agreed that "al-Qaida is an enemy. . . .to the United States, to Iraq, and to Iran."

Mr. Crocker noted, however, that "the test and challenge is applying those principles on the ground". And, he pointed out that unfortunately, Iran's destructive activity in Iraq has actually increased since the May talks:

"For us it is a very clear case. We have individuals in custody who have spoken of Iranian involvement. We have the evidence of weapons and ammunition captured on the ground. . . .There is no question in our mind that this support is going on. It's not something we are trying to or need to prove in a court of law. We made it clear to the Iranians that we know what they're doing. It's up to them to decide what they want to do about it."

The U.S., Iran, and Iraq did agree to set up a special committee to address issues relating to Iraq's security. Ambassador Crocker said he expects the U.S., Iran and Iraq to work out the details in the coming days.

This presents an opportunity, said Mr. Crocker, for Iran to bring its behavior into line with its stated policy of support for a stable and democratic Iraq. "We'll pursue this," he said, "as long as we think there may be a prospect for steps that improve Iraqi security. But what's going to count. . . .is going to be actions on the ground. . . .I know what we've seen in the past. We'll be watching closely to see what we see in the future."

Mr. Crocker said Iran should end its support of violent militia groups and help bring stability to Iraq, its former enemy. "It makes sense in terms of Iran's own interest," he said. "No people have suffered greater harm under Saddam Hussein than the Iraqis themselves, but second to the Iraqis are the Iranians. That vicious eight-year war that Saddam launched against them has to be something no Iranian will ever forget."