Iran says US must ask directly for new Iraq talks
( AFP ) - Iran said on Friday that the United States must ask directly through its interests section in the Swiss embassy in Tehran if it wants new talks about security in Iraq.
"If the United States officially put forward a request through the Swiss embassy in Tehran to negotiate with Iran, for the sake of Iraqi nation we are ready to talk with our old enemy only about Iraq," deputy foreign minister Mohammad Reza Baqeri said.
"This time the United States has sent a message to Iran's foreign ministry via Iraqi officials to talk about Iraq issues," state television quoted him as saying.
Washington has had no diplomatic relations with Tehran since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution and its interests in Iran are handled by the Swiss embassy.
Earlier, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari urged Iran and the United States to hold a new round of trilateral talks with Iraq following the release of nine Iranians by US forces.
"We have been saying that there should be a new round of talks between the three countries on the issues involving Iraq. These talks should happen this month," Zebari said Friday.
The US military on Friday freed nine of 20 Iranians in its custody.
US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker last Saturday said that he will meet his Iranian counterpart again in Baghdad "in a not too distant future."
Crocker and his Iranian counterpart in Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, have held two sets of face-to-face talks over Iraqi security during the past year on May 28 and July 24. However neither meeting made any breakthrough.
The two sides also met at experts level on August 6, but no meeting has been held since then.