Iran says it will join Iraq conference

Larijani visits Baghdad to discuss "questions and ambiguities" on agenda.

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April 29, 2007 13:32
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed Sunday that his government will attend a major regional conference on Iraq set for this week in Egypt, the Iraqi prime minister's office said. A statement from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office said Ahmadinejad telephoned the Iraqi leader and told him Teheran would participate in the meeting Thursday and Friday in the resort of Sharm e-Sheikh. The call was made as top Iranian envoy Ali Larijani flew to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi leaders. In Teheran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Larijani would discuss the conference with Iraqi government officials as Iran had "some questions and ambiguities about the agenda." All of Iraq's other neighbors as well as Egypt, Bahrain and representatives of the big five UN Security Council members have agreed to attend. Iran sent signals Sunday that it was warming toward the conference. "Iranian officials are following this case with a positive point of view," Hosseini told reporters at a briefing. Asked whether Iran would attend the conference, he replied: "God willing, a final decision will be announced today or tomorrow." And the head of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Alaeddin Boroojerdi, said an Iranian delegation should go to Sharm e-Sheikh. "Iran should attend the conference, actively and powerfully," Boroojerdi was quoted as saying by IRNA. Boroojerdi added that if Iran did not participate, it would lay itself open to criticism from the United States. Iran has demanded the release of five Iranian officials detained in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil by US troops in January. Iran says the official were diplomats who should not have been detained. The US military has said the Iranians are suspected of links to a network supplying arms to Iraqi insurgents - an accusation that Iran has denied. Hosseini denied Sunday that Iran had linked its participation at the conference to the release of the five detainees. "It is not intended to tie the fate of these five with that of the conference," Hosseini said when asked about such a link.

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