Iraqi officials: Iran wants ambassadorial-level talks with US over Iraq

Iranian diplomats have indicated they want to skip a postponed meeting with security, military and diplomatic experts from the US and instead hold another round of talks at the ambassadorial level, Iraqi officials said Monday. A meeting of such experts was canceled a few days before it was to open on December 18. At the time, Iranian officials said it was a scheduling problem. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Iraq the day the meeting was to have occurred. Since then, top Iranian officials in Iraq have asked their Iraqi counterparts to push American officials to hold a fourth-round of talks between Ambassador Ryan Crocker and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Kazemi Qomi. The two last met in August, shortly after the first meeting of experts. Crocker told reporters during a Sunday briefing in Baghdad that he would meet Qomi again.