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Iran to attend key meeting on stabilising Iraq

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari says there is a "high possibility" arch foes Tehran and Washington would hold bilateral talks at the May 3-4 conference in Egypt.

world Updated: Apr 30, 2007 06:31 IST

Iran will attend a conference of key powers including the United States this week that will focus on stabilising Iraq, a meeting Baghdad said might be a turning point for regional cooperation in easing the violence.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday there was a "high possibility" arch foes Tehran and Washington would hold bilateral talks at the May 3-4 conference in Egypt, although not necessarily at the ministerial level.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will attend the conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, said she would not rule out the possibility of meeting directly with Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki.

"But what do we need to do? It's quite obvious," she told ABC television in the United States.

"Stop the flow of arms to foreign fighters. Stop the flow of foreign fighters across the borders ... Stop stirring up trouble among militias that then go and kill innocent Iraqis. It's quite clear what needs to be done."

Tehran said its delegation headed by Mottaki would have the "aim of helping the Iraqi nation and government".

Washington accuses Iran of destabilizing Iraq and US officials say Rice would probably limit any discussions to this.

Iran denies meddling in Iraq and blames the US-led invasion in 2003 for violence that is threatening to tear Iraq apart and spill over into neighbouring countries. Washington is at also loggerheads with Iran over its nuclear program.