Australia pressuring Iran for commitment on Iraq

Australia's top diplomat said Wednesday he is pressuring Iran to commit to stabilizing Iraq during formal US-Iran talks in Baghdad designed to get the Islamic republic to cooperate in quelling sectarian violence. "I've made the point to the Iranians that they need to think about their long-term strategic interest in Iraq," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said at a news conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in California. "They don't want to see the collapse of the present government." Rice praised Australia for engaging Tehran ahead of the talks, which are scheduled to begin Monday. While staunch US ally Australia retains diplomatic links to Iran, Washington broke off relations following the 1979 hostage crisis and the two governments often clash.