(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Iran on Sunday denied reports that it was trying to organize a summit bringing together its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the leaders of Iraq and Syria.
"Holding such a summit was not on the agenda, as some media mentioned." Mohammed Ali Hosseini, the Foreign Ministry spokesman told journalists in response to reports saying that Iran had planned to hold a summit Saturday with its two neighbors.
"Such a summit needs certain preliminaries," he added, but did not give details.
The reports of a meeting come at a time when US President George Bush's administration is under increased pressure at home to approach Iran and Syria for help in Iraq. Such a measure is believed to be one of the recommendations by a panel on Iraq led by former Secretary of State James Baker.
An Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi summit would appear to fit into US hopes that Iraq's neighbors will step in to help stem the violence. Iran is believed to back Iraqi Shi'ite militias blamed in sectarian killings that have killed thousands this year. Iran has denied the charges.
But Hosseini said Iran has already been active in trying to support Iraq's security. "The Islamic Republic of Iran has been participating in providing security in Iraq and the region and will continue doing so," he said but did not elaborate. "Iran will discuss security with other countries including Syria, if necessary."
The spokesman confirmed that Iran has invited Syrian President Bashar Assad for an official visit to Teheran, the Iranian capital.
"Discussions to set a date will continue, but are not related to a trilateral summit," Hosseini said of the invitation extended to Assad.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will visit Iran, the spokesman told journalists, but he did not say when. "His visit will be about cooperation between the two countries." Talabani was scheduled to visit Teheran Saturday, on a trip that the Iranian side said last week was for bilateral talks. But the Iraqi president postponed his trip Friday until Baghdad's airport, closed in a security clampdown, reopens.
Syrian officials have been silent about any plans Assad might have to travel to Iran, which is Damascus' only close ally.