Iran sees positive steps in talks with U.S. on Iraq

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran saw “positive” steps in rare face-to-face talks with the United States over Iraq on Monday, Iranian ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, who headed Tehran’s delegation, told state television.

“Some problems have been raised and studied and I think this was a positive step ... In the political field, the two sides agreed to support and strengthen the Iraqi government, which was another positive item achieved in these talks,” he said.

The envoy described the discussions as “frank and clear” and said Iran had raised issues it was concerned about.

U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said he had urged Iran to stop supporting militias in Iraq but also described the two nations’ highest-profile meeting in almost 30 years as positive.

“The Iraqi government requested that such talks ... need to be continued. But the timing for more talks will be announced later after more consultations,” the Iranian envoy said.

He said Tehran, Washington and Baghdad had all agreed to set up a committee to discuss security issues and which would aim to “solve Iraq’s security problem”. He did not say when such a committee would meet.

Kazemi-Qomi added that “the occupying forces have increased problems, pain and sorrow of the Iraqi nation.”

The meeting did not touch on Iran’s controversial nuclear program, the most contentious issue in U.S.-Iranian relations.