US-Iran to set up panel on Iraq


Tehran/Washington : The US and Iran, during the second round of their ambassador-level talks in Baghdad, agreed Wednesday to set up a tripartite committee on the security situation in the troubled country, with Iraq as the third member.

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Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted an Iraqi official in Tehran saying that the two sides agreed to continue discussions at the experts level.

"During the seven hours of negotiations, ambassadors from Iran and the US agreed to continue debating Iraqi issues," the official said.

The talks between US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi, which began Tuesday, were hosted by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in his office inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. It was also attended by a delegation of Iraqi officials headed by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Crocker described his talks with Qomi as "difficult discussions", noting that the difficulty stemmed from "the lack of clear action on the ground to back Iran's stated policy" that it wanted to see security normalised in Iraq.

There were arguments when he accused Iran of providing direct support to extremist militias – both training and actual weapons – and that Washington had "the proof", Crocker told Washington-based reporters over phone.

The US and Iran held a historic meeting May 28 that marked their first direct talks in 27 years. Since then, tensions have grown as both sides continue to hurl accusations at each other over their role in Iraq and in the region.