Iran, U.S. to Discuss Security in Iraq The U.S. and Iran are talking for the second time in as many months after nearly three decades of silence. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and his Iranian counterpart are due to meet in Baghdad to discuss the worsening security situation there.
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Iran, U.S. to Discuss Security in Iraq

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Iran, U.S. to Discuss Security in Iraq

Iran, U.S. to Discuss Security in Iraq

Iran, U.S. to Discuss Security in Iraq

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The U.S. and Iran are talking for the second time in as many months after nearly three decades of silence. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and his Iranian counterpart are due to meet in Baghdad to discuss the worsening security situation there.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

The top U.S. diplomat in Iraq says Iran's support for Iraqi militias has risen since the United States and Iran first talked in May.

MONTAGNE: What we've been seeing on the ground over the last couple of months has in many respects represented an escalation, not a de-escalation.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Jamie Tarabay is covering this story from Baghdad. And Jamie, the ambassador, Ryan Crocker, doesn't seem happy with the progress made since that first meeting.

JAMIE TARABAY: He said that - and I quote him, you know, he said that he was very full and frank in the discussion in with what he brought to the table with what he said the American military has evidence against Iranian activities in Iraq. He said, you know, it's a very clear case. We have individuals in custody. We have weapons and ammunition. And there's no question, he says, that this support is going on. And he said it's nothing that we need to put you in the court of law. He said they made it clear to the Iranians that the Americans know what they're doing, and it's now up to the Iranians to decide what they're going to do next.

MONTAGNE: Was there any response from the Iranian side to this?

TARABAY: Well, the Iranians have stuck to their line that they have absolutely nothing to do with any of these militia attacks against coalition troops and American troops. They say that the security and stability of Iraq is one of the biggest priorities for the Iranian government, that they all agree that it is in everyone's best interest that Iraq is stable.

MONTAGNE: There was some agreement, then, in this meeting?

TARABAY: Yes. They did agree to set up a security subcommittee, which was going to carry on meeting and talking about how they're going to restore stability to Iraq. Who the members of this meeting, of this committee will be, when they'll begin and what level of responsibility they're going to have, that's still being discussed at the moment. But at least on this particular issue, they've managed to move forward.

MONTAGNE: And Jamie, you just got back after being embedded with U.S. troops for a week. How is the new security plan, the new U.S. plan, affecting the situation?

TARABAY: And then the U.S. military officials that I was with said that had it not been for the surge and had they not been able to go from working in a larger area to just specifically in Amariya, this wouldn't never have progressed as well as they say it has to this point. So they believe that the surge is very much helping them in this area.

MONTAGNE: As diplomatic efforts continue, Ambassador Crocker and his military counterpart, General David Petraeus, are putting forward a new military plan for securing Iraq. The plan aims to restore security in Baghdad and other places by next summer. But it says achieving sustainable security nationwide would likely take another year, to the summer of 2009. That timetable is at odds with those favored by some members of Congress. The plan was first reported in this morning's New York Times and has not yet been finalized.

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U.S., Iranian Ambassadors Meet in Baghdad

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The U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Baghdad met Tuesday to discuss ways to bring stability to Iraq, coming together for the second time since May, when they came together for the first time to end a nearly three-decade diplomatic freeze.

The talks, reported to have been heated, went off despite rising tensions over Washington's allegations that Tehran is fueling the violence in Iraq.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened the meeting with a statement welcoming the delegates at his headquarters in the heavily fortified Green Zone. Al-Maliki said "terrorism hits all Iraqi population sectors, with no exception," in his address, according to Iraqi state TV.

The meeting was closed to the media, but photos released by the Iraqi leader's office showed the participants sitting at three long tables for each delegation linked in triangular fashion and covered with white cloths.

Al-Maliki was joined by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, while the U.S. delegation was headed by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and the Iranians by Ambassador Hasan Kazemi Qomi.

An Iraqi official who was present at the meeting room said Crocker and Qomi were involved in a heated exchange early in the talks.

Crocker confronted the Iranians with charges that Tehran was supporting Shiite militiamen killing U.S. troops, providing them with weapons and training, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose the information.

Qomi dismissed the allegations, saying the Americans had no proof, the official said.

The detention of four American-Iranians in Iran has deepened tensions between Washington and Tehran, whose relations already were strained over Iran's controversial nuclear program and its support for radical militant groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas and by U.S. military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

But State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Iraq was the only issue on the agenda.

"This is an opportunity for direct engagement on issues solely related to Iraq," McCormack told reporters in Washington on Monday. "We are going to raise the need for Iran to match its actions with its words in seeking strategic stability in Iraq."

McCormack said Iran has not taken any steps to help bring about a stable Iraq, a goal he said Iran professes to share with the United States.

"We'll see, if, as a result of these engagements, they will change their behavior."

The first round of Iran-U.S. talks, on May 28 in Baghdad, broke a 27-year diplomatic freeze following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran.

Meanwhile, The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Tuesday it will send a team of inspectors early next week to a disputed Iranian heavy water reactor - a key step in efforts to allay concerns over the country's nuclear program.

Olli Heinonen, deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters after meeting with a delegation from Iran that the team would head Monday or Tuesday to the complex under construction outside the industrial city of Arak.

Arak will produce plutonium once it is completed sometime in the next decade, and the U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop construction.

From NPR Reports and The Associated Press