The United States said ambassador-level talks with Iran that began Tuesday in Baghdad will focus solely on the situation in Iraq despite rising tensions over American-Iranians detained by Tehran and Iranians held in U.S. custody in Iraq.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened the meeting with a statement welcoming the attendants at his office in the heavily fortified Green Zone, then the Iraqi leader left the room, according to an official in his office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Iraqi state TV also reported that the meeting had begun.
The detention of four American-Iranians in Iran has deepened tensions between Washington and Tehran, whose relations already were strained over many issues.
But State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Iraq was the only issue on the agenda.
"This is an opportunity for direct engagement on issues solely related to Iraq," McCormack told reporters in Washington on Monday. "We are going to raise the need for Iran to match its actions with its words in seeking strategic stability in Iraq."
The first round of Iran-U.S. talks, on May 28 in Baghdad, broke a 27-year diplomatic freeze following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker was leading the U.S. side. His counterpart was Hasan Kazemi Qomi, Iran's envoy to Iraq.
An Iraqi delegation led by a top official also was attending the talks, according to Labeed Abawi, a senior official at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. He declined to identify the official.
"What we, as Iraqis, hope to achieve is to build confidence between the two sides," Abawi told The Associated Press. "There are facts on the ground, and they need to be dealt with."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Temmuz 2007, 13:13