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Iran: No talks until U.S. stops Iraq attacks

  • Story Highlights
  • Iranian official says government will not yet resume talks with U.S. and Iraq
  • Official says talks "unnecessary" while U.S. continues attacks on Iraqi people
  • U.S. official says talks were useful but Iran needs to change its behavior
  • U.S. believes Iran is supporting Shiite militias
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(CNN) -- An Iranian official says the government wants the United States to stop its "savage attacks" in Iraq before its envoys hold more talks with U.S. and Iraqi officials, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.

"Under the current circumstances and given the U.S. widespread attacks against Iraqi people in different cities, Iran does not feel these negotiations are necessary," an unnamed official told Fars.

The official -- described as a senior member of Iran's negotiating team -- delivered the remarks as U.S. and Iraqi troops have been fighting Shiite militants in Baghdad and in Basra. The Bush administration says many of these fighters have backing from Iranian agents.

Iran and the United States held three meetings in Baghdad last year to discuss improving security in Iraq. Two meetings were at the ambassadorial level and one was at the expert level. Iraqi officials hosted the meetings.

Iraq's foreign minister said he does not foresee the security talks between Iran and the United States resuming for now.

"We see the value of these talks to be continued, I think, in future, but when conditions are right and conducive," Hoshyar Zebari told CNN. "Under the circumstances, I really don't see any opportunity for these talks to be resumed."

The Fars report noted that an Iranian delegation went to Baghdad in March for a fourth round of talks. But U.S. officials said at the time that no meeting had been planned and the delegation returned to Iran.

Zebari said the March meeting didn't work out because "that meeting was not well coordinated by the Iranians and didn't go "through the right channels."

Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Monday the U.S. was ready for another session but that it was "meaningless to have talks on anything with Iran unless it changes its behavior."

Casey said Iran says publicly it envisions and supports stability for Iraq. "Unfortunately, while we continue to hear those same kinds of messages when we have these discussions, they have done nothing to address to the fundamental problems," he said.

The Iranian official told Fars that "if U.S. savage attacks against the Iraqi people are stopped, we will examine the U.S. request for a fourth round of talks."

Zebari said that "neither the Iraqi government nor the U.S. government has requested any new rounds of talks with Iran recently."

Last week, a five-member Iraqi delegation confronted Iranian officials in Tehran with evidence that Iran is smuggling weapons into Iraq and training Iraqi militants. The Iranians vehemently denied the charges, according to one member of the delegation, Haidar al-Abadi.

Al-Abadi, a lawmaker and member of al-Maliki's Dawa Party, did not explain what the "evidence" was, but said "the Iranian side was hurt" by the allegations.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will form a committee to document what it calls Iranian "interference" in Iraqi affairs.

Iran has long-standing ties to Iraq's Shiite parties, including the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which is the dominant party in the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of several parties. The Islamic Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq dominates the country's security forces.

The United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Alliance are the ruling entities in the Iraqi government.

But U.S. commanders say Iranian support for "criminal" Shiite militias now battling Iraqi and American troops in Baghdad has begun to alarm the country's U.S.-backed government.

U.S. and Iraqi forces say they are battling "outlaws" and Iranian-backed Special Groups in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, which is a stronghold of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

A spokesman for al-Sadr criticized the move to send an Iraqi delegation to Tehran, saying the issue should be settled in Iraq between Sadrists and the Iraqi government. The delegation did not meet with al-Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran.

Meanwhile, fighting raged between U.S. troops and Shiite militants in Baghdad from Sunday night to Monday morning.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of 10 militants and Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said 11 people, including civilians, were killed.

Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a U.S. military spokesman, said three "Special Group criminals" were killed and another wounded Sunday night in northeastern Sadr City, while three "militants" were killed in the eastern neighborhood of New Baghdad.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said Monday that at least six were killed and 41 wounded in overnight fighting in Sadr City.

Stover said three militants were killed and two civilians were wounded in western Baghdad's Amil district. He said U.S. troops fired at gunmen who ambushed them with small arms fire and requested air support. Warplanes shot three Hellfire missiles at militant targets, he said.

An Interior Ministry official said U.S. airstrikes in Amil destroyed an apartment, killing five people and wounding eight. Among the dead were a father, a mother and their daughter, an official said.

The U.S. military said its soldiers called for air support in the Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad, a Shiite enclave, after fighters shot at them with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. An AC-130 engaged the target with 40 mm rounds and killed one "criminal." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

All About Supreme Islamic Council of IraqIraqIranGeorge W. Bush

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