US Secretary of State urges Iran to attend Mideast meeting on Iraq

( LatWp ) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Iran not to boycott a conference next week of the major countries and parties with a stake in the future of Iraq, at which the United States and Iran would have an opportunity for senior-level talks.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran is still ``reviewing'' whether it will attend. Yet in a reflection of the sometimes bizarre relations between Tehran and Washington, he also called for direct talks with President Bush. ``Last year I announced readiness for a televised debate over global issues with his excellency Mr. Bush, and now we announce that I am ready to negotiate with him about bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues,'' Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by an Iranian television channel. He made similar comments in an interview with Reuters.

U.S. and Middle East officials dismissed the offer as grandstanding.

In an interview with the Financial Times published Monday, Rice said it would be a ``missed opportunity'' if Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki does not join counterparts from five neighboring states--as well as the United States, the European Union and the United Nations--at the conference in Egypt. Senior Iranian officials have indicated Mottaki might not attend, in part because the United States has refused to release five Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers captured in northern Iraq in January.

The standoff comes when the Bush administration is seeking regional help to stabilize Iraq, as even top U.S. officers say the new security plan for Baghdad is having mixed results. Iran is particularly important because it has aided or armed Iraq's major Shiite political parties and militias as well as Kurdish parties. U.S. officials recently charged that Tehran is also providing weaponry to Sunni fighters.

Rice is scheduled to attend the conference in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheik May 3 and 4, as are Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari is expected to fly to Iran this week to make the case for Iran to send senior representation to the meeting, a senior Iranian official said Monday. A decision by Mottaki not to attend--or to send only lower-level diplomats--could undermine efforts to win real involvement by key neighbors.

Tehran feels affronted on several counts, which will all factor into its decision, Iranian officials said Monday.

The regime in Tehran thinks that it was in part duped into attending a lower-level meeting of the same parties last month in Baghdad, in which it agreed to participate after Iraqi officials said they expected the five Iranians to be released shortly, Iranian sources said. The Bush administration overruled a recommendation from the State Department to release the five intelligence operatives picked up in a raid on Iran's liaison office in Irbil.

The Iranian captives, known as the Irbil-5, now have the same status as about 250 other foreigners captured in Iraq. Their cases are not eligible for review until July, U.S. officials say.

Iran is also unhappy because it was excluded from final consultations on the venue and agenda of the meeting, even though it has more political sway in Iraq than any neighbor, Iranian sources said. But Tehran also does not want to be seen as obstructing neighbors' efforts on Iraq, Iranian officials said. The compromise might be to send a lower-level official , sources added.

In the interview, Rice also said the United States is open to discussing any topic with Iran if it will agree to suspend the enrichment of uranium, which can be used to develop nuclear energy as well as nuclear weapons. If Tehran complies with a U.N. demand to suspend enrichment and comes to the negotiating table, ``I will come to the table, too,'' Rice said. ``It would reverse 27 years of policy. We can talk about anything.''

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Loading Bars
JV in Kazakhstan to engage electric engine repair services via tender
Kazakhstan’s oil producing company opens tender to remove hazardous drilling waste
Kazakhstan’s vice minister of ecology, head of "Operator ROP" company detained
Turkmenistan launches unified trading platform for entrepreneurs
Azerbaijan discloses districts with highest cotton yield
Power outage in Uzbekistan leads to decrease in gas production
Kazakhstan shares data on Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund's debt
Axpo Holding places first sustainability-linked bond
Azerbaijani oil prices up
Uzbekneftegaz JSC resumes operation of its enterprises and plants following large-scale blackout
‘Nar’ takes the title of Azerbaijan champion (PHOTO)
Georgia reports new record high COVID-19 cases
Germany to support development of Azerbaijan's private sector
Turkmenistan ready to boost natural gas supplies to China
Uzbekistan's Tashkent Metro resumes operations
Kazakhstan introduces anti-terrorist operation regime in Almaty's district
ITU talks areas of cooperation with Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan proves to be reliable partner in large scale energy projects – GECF
Azerbaijan to export saffron to Arab countries
Russian stocks open higher on Wednesday
Azerbaijani Central Bank receives ISO/IEC certificate on information security management
Liabilities of Georgia’s commercial banks up
Azerbaijani currency rates for January 26
Azerbaijani transport, communications sector lending down in 2021
Azerbaijan records increase in number of loans issued in trade and service sector
Azerbaijan preparing bill to further strengthen material and technical base of armed forces
IGB joins PRISMA platform
Volume of problem loans decreases in Azerbaijani banks in 2021
Subsidies for poultry farms to increase in Uzbekistan
Oil dips on profit-taking ahead of Fed update
Iran to support women's empowerment plans
Peru PM tests positive for COVID-19
Georgia, Poland to co-op in railway sector under EU-funded project
U.S. Coast Guard searching for 39 missing off Florida
Turkey confirms 76,341 daily COVID-19 cases
US approves major arms sale to Egypt
Scientists take aim at Omicron
U.S. House Speaker Pelosi announces reelection bid in 2022 midterms
James Webb Space Telescope reaches observation post a million miles from Earth
Microsoft offers strong forecast, lifting shares
Americans need to lift sanctions before call for direct talks
Over 10 mln children in U.S. infected with COVID-19
Number of COVID-19 cases worldwide exceeds 350 mln
Qatar's emir to visit Washington on Jan. 31
Airbus to create own airline to rent out whale plane
Closure of Istanbul Airport extended
White House says Biden is open to engaging with Putin but no talks are planned
Kazakhstan unveils foreign trade structure with EAEU countries for 11M2021
Israel's president says to make "historic visit" to UAE
Uzbekistan sets up government commission to study major power outage
IMF downgrades 2022 global growth forecast to 4.4 pct amid Omicron surge
Turkey starts giving Turkovac as booster shot to BioNTech recipients
Azerbaijan, Iran discuss prospects for development of military cooperation (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan Defense Minister meets with Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Iran (PHOTO)
Pfizer, BioNTech start clinical trial of Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine
Number of infections with Omicron COVID-19 strain keeps growing in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's servicemen honor memory of martyrs in Dashalty village of liberated Shusha - Trend TV (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Embassy of India in Baku celebrates National Tourism Day as part of 73rd Republic Day of India and 75 years of India’s Independence (PHOTO)
Bridge construction over Astarachay River to be funded by Iran and Azerbaijan - Iranian minister
Iran's foreign trade increases
New bridge construction over Astarachay River to promote freight traffic growth
Hopefully, number of Azerbaijani tourists to India increases - ambassador (PHOTO)
Central Bank of Azerbaijan, SOFAZ hold foreign currency auction
Natural gas, coal prices to remain high in coming months
Foundation stone laid for monument to Uzeyir Hajibeyov in St. Petersburg
Turkmenistan boosts trade with Kazakhstan over 11M2021
Tajikistan ratifies railway transport agreement with Turkmenistan
Price indexes of financial, industrial sectors at Uzbek stock exchange rise
Russia’s Kamaz-Leasing company opens representative office in Azerbaijan
Supply of electricity all across Kazakhstan completely resumed - gov't
Azerbaijan's Azer Turk Bank discloses volume of public deposits for 2021
Azerbaijani commandos hold training exercises (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Uzbekistan sees increase in volume of cotton fiber produced
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan's Alat port receives first container train from Uzbekistan
Iran's minister of industry confirms low quality of domestic cars
Azerbaijan confirms 2,468 more COVID-19 cases, 5,197 recoveries
Foundation of new road bridge across Astarachay River laid between Iran and Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Big rise in prices negatively affects Kazakh economy - National Bank
World Bank Lauds India's Covid Vaccination efforts but says reaching next billion 'could be challenging'
Azerbaijan names vaccines delivered under COVAX initiative in 2021
Azerbaijan's Central Bank to auction its short-term notes
Uzbekistan restores electricity supply in number of its regions
Missing World War II aircraft found in India after 77 years
Iran approves creation of national cryptocurrency
Navy holds high level meeting on creation of Maritime Theatre Command
Azerbaijan's Azer Turk Bank announces net profit for 2021
Food-processing enterprises may be built on Azerbaijan's liberated lands - deputy minister
Turkey records increase in export of ready-made clothing to Azerbaijan
Turkey’s export of steel to Azerbaijan up
Azerbaijan sees rise in domestic money supply for 2021
India Inc proposes additional 1% CSR levy for booster shots
Azerbaijan to get another batch of Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in 2022
Women interested in creating business on Azerbaijani liberated lands - agency
Construction costs in Georgia's Tbilisi increase
Azerbaijan, WB discuss ways to use wind energy potential of Caspian Sea (PHOTO)
Turkmengaz opens tender to buy plant equipment
Azerbaijan Children Hotline released its report for 2021 (PHOTO)
European Commission to support agriculture reform, transition to green economy in Uzbekistan
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev calls President of Ukraine
All news