UK welcomes Iran's attendance at Iraq meeting

Iran Materials 28 February 2007 17:20 (UTC +04:00)

( IRNA ) - The British government Wednesday welcomed Iran's participation at next month's regional conference on Iraq.

A Foreign Office spokesman also confirmed that Britain will participate at official level at the meeting to discuss the security crisis in Iraq.

"We very much welcome the meeting. It is very important that neighbouring countries engage positively," the spokesman told IRNA .

The meeting, which also involves the US, has also been welcomed by member of the Iraq Study Group in Washington, which recommended such talks in December.

" Iran and Syria can play a much more positive role in security and rebuilding Iraq," the British Foreign Office spokesman said.

The conference, which will include the five permanent UN Security Council members and the Arab League, is expected to be initially held at non-ministerial level.

Speaking in the British parliament on Tuesday, former International Development Secretary Clare Short criticized commentators on the Middle East for "always trying to highlight Syria and Iran as interfering in Iraq and as a destructive influence."

"My view is that the game of divide and rule, and of blaming Iran and Syria for problems in Iraq, is merely about creating scapegoats," Short told MPs.

During a debate on Syria and Lebanon, she also said that "the vilification of Iran and separating Iran from Syria should not be the objective of our policy."

"Our policy should be to get Iran and Syria to help to stabilize Iraq and to drive on with a settlement in Israel and Palestine and with an agreement to remove all weapons of mass destruction from the region," the former minister said.

She also suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government "will not be able to contribute to the finding of peace in the Middle East if they are not willing to adopt a more independent view" away from the US.