( IranMania ) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Iran to take part in a meeting on Iraq next month, telling the Financial Times it would be a "missed opportunity" if Tehran failed to attend.
In an interview published in Monday's edition of the newspaper, Rice also denied the Iran policy of
President George W. Bush's administration had been directed at "regime change."
According to Reuters, Egypt will host the high-level meeting of a group of countries that includes Syria, Turkey and the United States in the first week of May to discuss how to stop the violence in Iraq. The conference is a follow-up to one in Baghdad in March.
Iran has not yet decided whether Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will participate.
"It will be a missed opportunity if he doesn't, but obviously it's up to the Iranian government," Rice told the Financial Times.
As for Syria, another of Iraq's neighbors, the secretary of state said: "We have diplomatic relations with Syria. And it is not a matter of having an allergy to talking to certain states.
"But we have the neighbors' conference coming up. We'll have a chance to, in a sense, test the proposition that Iraq's neighbors have more to lose from an unstable Iraq than to gain from it."
Rice also rejected the idea that Washington sought a change of government in Iran.
"It (regime change) was not the policy of the U.S. government. The policy was to have a change in regime behavior," she said.
"It is very clear in the package of proposals that were put forward would open up some possibilities of economic and political dialogue, even advantage. We removed our WTO (World Trade Organization) objection so that Iran could apply for WTO membership. I think ( America's stance) is perfectly clear."
Her comments were published after an Iranian official said on Sunday the United States was showing signs of softening its attitude towards Iran.