Rice has no plan to meet Iran at Iraq conference

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she had no plans to meet Iranian officials at an international conference in Kuwait next week on Iraq.

Rice has no plan to meet Iran at Iraq conference
Rice also said Washington was still waiting for Saudi Arabia to send an ambassador to Baghdad as part of increased US efforts to involve Arabs more in rebuilding Iraq and helping "shield" it from Iran's "nefarious influences."

"No, I don't intend to meet the Iranians, that is not in the plan," Rice told a press conference ahead of the gathering in Kuwait scheduled for Tuesday.

"Let me just say, the Iranians will be at the meeting. I'm not trying to suggest they won't be. But, no, I don't have any plans to meet them," Rice said.

The conference, which was held previously in Egypt and Turkey, will be attended by Iraq's neighbors, UN Security Council permanent members including the United States and other Group of Eight developed nations.

Iran said it will attend the meeting, though it has not made clear at what level.

During the meeting in Istanbul last year, there were informal encounters between the Iranian foreign minister and Rice.

There was no sign Saudi Arabia will reopen its embassy in Baghdad during talks next week.

Asked if she expected an announcement at the talks next week, which also involve meetings in Bahrain on Monday with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states, Rice said: "No."

She claimed that the Sunni-led Arab governments, if they boosted their diplomatic presence in Baghdad, could help promote reconciliation between Iraq's Sunni minority and new Shiite-led government

But she said "I think the Iraqis are doing pretty well, frankly."

"The thing that would most help Iraq right now from its neighbors is debt relief," she said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Nisan 2008, 16:30