Iran confirmed it will take part in an international conference alongside the United States in Baghdad on Saturday, a gathering Iraq hopes will break the ice between the bitter rivals to help end its bloody conflict.
In a sign of how difficult it will be resolve the differences separating the various sides, the conference of Iraq's neighbors, the United States and the UN Security Council powers will be attended by officials on the level of deputy foreign minister. A hoped-for session of higher level diplomats has been postponed until later.
The United States has accused Iran of backing anti-US Shiite militants in Iraq, has detained Iranian officials there and has angered Teheran by beefing up its military presence in the Persian Gulf. Washington is also pushing for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
On the Iranian side, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday that his country hoped "the conference will bring forward the end of the presence of foreign forces" in Iraq - reiterating Teheran's stance that US troops should withdraw.