Report: Iran refuses talks with US at Iraq forum

Iran's deputy foreign minister dismissed the possibility of direct US-Iran talks on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq this week in Egypt, according to a report carried by an Iranian semiofficial news agency. Iran on Sunday said it would join the US and other countries at the two-day conference on Iraq, to begin Thursday in Egypt. This raised hopes Teheran would help stabilize its violent neighbor and also that the gathering would provide for a rare encounter between high-level US and Iranian officials. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she will not rule out sideline talks with Iranian and Syrian diplomats during the gathering in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheik resort. Lower-level US diplomats had brief face-to-face meetings with counterparts from Iran and Syria during a similar Iraq-themed conference in Baghdad in March.