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Iran sees progress in talks with U.S.

March 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

TEHRAN — Iran said Sunday that its direct talks with the United States during a Baghdad conference over the weekend were a constructive "first step" toward restoring stability to the neighboring country.

Mohammed Ali Hosseini, a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, also said his country hoped a proposed follow-up meeting on Iraq would be successful.

"If such a conference to be held at the foreign minister level happens in the near future in Baghdad, then it is possible to expect success," Hosseini said. He did not say whether the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, would attend.

Hosseini also said Iran was ready to support any plan that would help end the bloodshed in Iraq.

"Leaving security affairs to the Iraqi government, arranging a timetable for the departure of foreign forces and taking an indiscriminate approach to all terrorist groups can bring peace and security in Iraq," he said.

President Bush said Sunday that Iran and Syria needed to follow through on pledges to help Iraq, but left the door open to additional contacts between Washington and its chief Mideast foes.

"If they really want to help stabilize Iraq, there are things for them to do, such as cutting off weapons flows and/or the flow of suicide bombers into Iraq," Bush said during a visit to Bogota, Colombia.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari expressed skepticism, saying the Iranians "need to match their statement of support for the Iraqi government with actions and words on the ground."

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