Stability in Iraq on the Table in U.S.-Iran Meeting The United States ambassador to Baghdad and his Iranian counterpart met for four hours Monday in what the American side called a business-like atmosphere. The talks focused on one subject only: Iraq.
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Anne Garrels Reports on the U.S.-Iran Talks

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Stability in Iraq on the Table in U.S.-Iran Meeting

Anne Garrels Reports on the U.S.-Iran Talks

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR NEWS, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

In Baghdad today, the highest-level talks between the United States and Iran in almost 30 years. The American ambassador to Iraq sat down with his Iranian counterpart for four hours in an atmosphere that the U.S. described as businesslike.

As NPR's Anne Garrels reports from Baghdad, the meeting focused on just one subject: Iraq.

ANNE GARRELS: Briefing reporters after the meeting, Ambassador Ryan Crocker said both sides agreed to support a secure, stable, democratic federal Iraq in control of its own security.

Ambassador RYAN CROCKER (U.S. Ambassador to Iraq): The Iranians, again, laid out their policy toward Iraq and their aims and goals, in terms very similar to our own policy, and very similar to what the Iraqi government has set as its own - set of guiding principles. So, from that point of view, I would say that the talks proceeded positively.

GARRELS: But Ambassador Crocker said Iran's positive words are undercut by its actions. He said what Iran is doing is dangerous for Iraq and the region.

Ambassador CROCKER: I laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq, their support for militias that are fighting both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces; the fact that a lot of the explosives and ammunition that are used by these groups are coming in from Iran.

GARRELS: Crocker said the Iranian side rejected the allegations but did not address the specifics. Crocker said the Iranians in turn called the U.S. presence in Iraq an occupation. He said they complained that U.S. efforts to build up Iraqi security forces had been inadequate.

Ambassador CROCKER: We of course responded, making clear that coalition forces are here at the Iraqi government's invitation and that we have put, literally, billions of dollars into training and equipping an increasingly capable set of Iraqi security forces.

GARRELS: In an interview with Iranian state television, the Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi described the discussions as frank and clear. He said he had told the Americans the occupying forces have increased problems, pain, and sorrow for the Iraqi nation.

The Iranians want this to be just the first of many meetings. Kazemi Qomi proposed setting up a U.S.-Iraqi-Iranian joint security committee, which would aim to solve Iraq's security problems. Following today's talks, Ambassador Kazemi Qomi told reporters the two sides would meet again in less than a month. Ambassador Crocker, however, said the U.S. wants to see results first.

Ambassador CROCKER: The purpose of the meeting - of a meeting should not be simply to arrange other meetings.

GARRELS: The Iraqi government has said it would invite the parties back for another meeting. Ambassador Crocker said only that the U.S. would consider such an invitation.

Today's talks lasted twice as long as was planned, but Ambassador Crocker said it would be wrong to read too much into that.

Ambassador CROCKER: As you surely know among diplomats, you don't need a lot of substance to take up a lot of time.

GARRELS: Anne Garrels, NPR News, Baghdad.

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