Rice offers to talk with Iran and Syria

Saturday, December 9, 2006

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters that she would be prepared to meet the Iranian foreign secretary, at any time and anywhere. But Iran must stop its uranium enrichment activities "so that they can't keep improving those enrichment capabilities while we talk."

She said that, if it suited their interests, both Iran and Syria would stabilize Iraq without having to be asked to do so by the United States. If they wanted compensation to do so, that would be another matter and she would have to ask what it was they wanted.

She reiterated her commitment to trying to heal the rift in Arab/Israeli relations in Palestine.

Interviewed by David Frost for Al Jazeera television, James Baker, with Lee Hamilton, joint author of the Iraq Study Report said that the President had been positive about the Report and that he had indicated willingness to talk with both Iran and Syria.

Massoud Barzani leader of the Kurdish region of Iraq and Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd, agreed in the opinion that US Iraq Study Group report is "unrealistic and inappropriate". Mr Barzani was unconvinced by the idea of involving Iran and Syria in discussions aimed at pacifying Iraq. He complained that the Study Group had ignored the Kurds in the Northern region in their investigations.

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