US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet Syria's foreign minister Thursday in the first high-level talks between the two countries in years, a US official said. But a substantive meeting between the United States and Iran - another staunch US Mideast foe - appeared less certain.
"We expect that there will be a discussion between Secretary of State Rice and the Syrian foreign minister about Iraqi security issues," said a senior US State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was still being arranged.
Both the United States and Iran had also spoken favorably of a possible meeting, but the chances for that remained unclear, and neither side had commented publicly on any immediate arrangements.
The confirmation of the Syrian meeting came as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened the conference by calling on all countries to forgive his country's foreign debts.