TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Tehran’s ambassador to Iraq will lead the Iranian delegation in talks with U.S. officials in Iraq on Monday to discuss stability in the country, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
It is a rare face-to-face meeting between the arch-enemies who broke ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah. “Hassan Kazemi-Qomi will lead the Iranian delegation for talks with America’s representative about Iraq’s security,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said. “The talks will start on Monday.”
Iran has said the talks, being held at the request of Iraqi leaders, would focus on Iraq’s situation, dismissing the possibility of discussing other issues, including Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.
The United States accuses Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq by backing Shi’ite militia in the neighbouring country and of providing weapons and the technology for new versions of roadside bombs used to kill American troops.
Tehran denies the charges and accuses Washington of igniting tension between Iraq’s Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.
Iran is locked in a standoff with the West over its atomic programme. Washington accuses Tehran of wanting nuclear weapons.
Iran says it needs nuclear technology only to generate electricity.