TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Despite talk of a possible rapprochement between Tehran and Washington, Iran sees no sign of the United States changing its policy towards the Islamic state, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
The Bush administration has come under growing pressure to reach out to Iran to try to calm escalating violence in Iraq. A key recommendation of a bipartisan U.S. report on how to tackle Iraq said Washington should engage Iran and Syria directly.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday that Iran was prepared to talk to the United States about Iraq, but only once Washington had announced clear plans to withdraw its troops from the country.
On Sunday Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran also wanted to see a clear indication that Washington had changed its attitude towards Iran. “America should change its policies in practice,” Hosseini told a weekly news conference.
“America’s policies towards Iran have been to extend sanctions for five more years, to freeze Iran’s assets and to put pressure on the (nuclear) negotiations. “These are the policies that we have seen in practice from America, we have not witnessed a major change,” he said.
Hosseini said the most important factor behind the violence in Iraq was the presence of foreign troops. “We don’t have any preconditions for helping the Iraqi government,” he said. “What we emphasise is that the occupiers must leave the region … and then we will have security and stability and progress.”
U.S. and some Iraqi officials have accused Iran of fuelling some of the violence in Iraq, a charge that Iran denies.