Details on what was discussed at today's meeting in Baghdad between US and Iranian envoys are sketchy, but it looks like both sides agreed on the aimed-for endpoint but disagreed on how to get there.
Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian envoy...said that he told the Americans that his government was ready to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create "a new military and security structure."As I suggested yesterday, really meaningful discussions were hampered by accusation and counter-accusation of cross-border meddling by both Iran and the US, but as much so by claims and counterclaims about Iran's nuclear program, which was the unspoken elephant in the room.
Kazemi did not elaborate nor would he say how U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker responded.
...Crocker described the session as businesslike and said Iran proposed setting up a "trilateral security mechanism" that would include the U.S., Iraq and Iran, an idea he said would require study in Washington.
The U.S. envoy also said he told the Iranians their country needed to stop arming, funding and training the militants. The Iranians laid out their policy toward Iraq, Crocker said, describing it as "very similar to our own policy and what the Iraqi government have set out as their own guiding principles."
He added: "This is about actions not just principles, and I laid out to the Iranians direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq and their support for militias that are fighting Iraqi and coalition forces."
...[Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Al-Maliki did not attend the meeting, but the prime minister greeted the two ambassadors, who shook hands, and led them into a conference room, where the ambassadors sat across from each other.
Before leaving, al-Maliki told both sides that Iraqis wanted a stable country free of foreign forces and regional interference. The country should not be turned into a base for terrorist groups, he said. He also said that the U.S.-led forces in Iraq were only here to help build up the army and police and the country would not be used as a launching ground for a U.S. attack on a neighbor, a clear reference to Iran.
Talking is almost always vastly preferable to bombing. However, I've a nasty feeling that these talks will, eventually, go nowhere - and will then be held up as evidence of iran's lack of amenablility to diplomacy by pro-war Bush administration memebers and their enablers. Even if Iran claimed to have stopped all meddling in Iraq - and it was true - it would be possible to interpret evidence to say otherwise if that was the narrative you started out looking to support.
"The next meeting will occur in Iraq in less than one month," Kazemi told an Associated Press reporter after his news conference at the Iranian Embassy.I suspect that last sentence means exactly what you think it does.
Crocker earlier said the Iraqis planned to propose a second session and that the United States would decide upon a follow-on meeting when the invitation was issued.
"We will consider that when we receive it," Crocker told reporters in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone. "The purpose of this meeting was not to arrange other meetings."