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The US recognizes that Iran has a role to play in Iraq, but wants Teheran to help stabilize the country, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview aired Tuesday on Arab television.
Rice's comments came ahead of planned talks between the United States and Iran over the situation in Iraq.
"Iran will clearly play a role," Rice told the Al-Arabiya satellite channel. "The question is: Will it be a positive role? Will it be a role that is befitting a good neighbor?"
"If Iran chooses to play a stabilizing role, chooses to play a transparent role, chooses to play a neighborly role, that would be a very good thing for Iraq," Rice said.
US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad has been authorized to hold discussions with Iran - the most public bilateral exchanges by the countries since soon after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
US and Iranian officials said the talks would focus on the situation in Iraq, not on broader subjects like Iran's controversial nuclear program or Iran's renewed verbal hostility to Israel since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won power last summer.
No date for such talks has been set.
In an apparent shift from prior policy, Iran's conservative government this year announced it was willing to begin a wide dialogue with the United States.
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