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Iran president backs Iraq talks with US but is wary

Written by: Staff
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TEHRAN, Mar 25 (Reuters) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today he supported talks with the United States about Iraq but was suspicious of US motives.

''We essentially do not trust the Americans but we will conditionally negotiate with them about Iraq while taking into account the interests of Iraqis and the world of Islam,'' Ahmadinejad said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

He did not go into detail, but Iranian officials have said the talks would cover only Iraq, not Iran's nuclear programme or other areas of dispute with Washington.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word in all matters of state, has already approved US-Iranian talks.

US officials have also said they are ready to meet but no date has been set.

Washington accuses Tehran of fomenting Shi'ite violence in Iraq.

Tehran denies the charge and blames the sectarian strife on the invasion and occupation by US-led forces. The United States also accuses Iran of wanting to build a nuclear bomb, which Iran also denies.

''The enemies seek to prevent us from making progress by massive propaganda but, hopefully, this year the Islamic Republic of Iran will fully master the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,'' IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at a meeting with Syrian Vice-President Farouq al-Shara.

Iran plans to start operating its first nuclear power plant, now being completed by Russian experts, later this year.

At the United Nations Security Council Britain, France and the United States are trying to win Russian and Chinese support for a statement pressing Iran to end uranium enrichment, a process which has civilian or military uses.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in telephone talks with the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers, said some Western states had politicised Iran's nuclear file.

''Some of the permanent members of the Security Council ...

are seeking to achieve certain political goals about Iran's nuclear case and beat the drum of confrontation,'' state radio quoted Mottaki as saying.

REUTERS SHR RS2224

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