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Iraq Transition

U.S., Iran to meet in Baghdad on May 28

Story Highlights

• Iraqi foreign minister says meeting this month will focus on Iraq issues
• White House spokesman: Talks will not result in a normalization of relations
• Tehran denies U.S. accusations that it is fomenting violence in Iraq
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(CNN) -- U.S. and Iranian officials will meet in Baghdad later this month to discuss issues involving Iraq, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters that the date would be May 28. Both officials were speaking from Islamabad, Pakistan, where an Islamic conference of foreign ministers was being held.

According to Zebari, the discussions will be a part of three-party talks, involving the United States, Iran and Iraq.

Earlier this week, White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters the talks would not result in a normalization of relations between the two countries, which have been cut since the 1979 hostage crisis.

"It is not unusual to have conversations of this sort," Snow said, adding that the possibility of granting Iran full diplomatic status would not be contemplated and has never been offered.

President Bush has branded Iran part of an "axis of evil." The White House accuses Iran -- Iraq's neighbor -- of meddling in Iraq's affairs and of providing weapons used by insurgents against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the United States will push Iran to play "a productive role in Iraq" and to stop sending bomb components and other such materials into the country.

Tehran denies the U.S. accusations and says it is not fomenting violence in the country.

"Following consultations between Iranian and Iraqi officials, Tehran has agreed to hold negotiations with Washington to relieve pains and suffering of the Iraqi people, support and strengthen the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and stabilize security and peace in that country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said, according to Iranian state-run media.

Iranian and U.S. diplomats had "brief encounters" earlier this month in Egypt at a two-day conference on Iraq, said Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.


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Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says the three-party talks will involve issues related to Iraq.

SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
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