Is Maliki facilitating Iranian regime direct talks with U.S.?

NCRI – Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq told the Obama administration this month that the Iranian regime was interested in direct talks with the United States on the regime’s nuclear program, Western officials said Thursday.

“In a meeting in early July with the American ambassador in Baghdad, Maliki suggested that he was relaying a message from Iranian officials and asserted that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s incoming president, would be serious about any discussions with the United States,” according to accounts of the meeting publish in the Times. “Although Mr. Maliki indicated that he had been in touch with confidants of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he did not disclose precisely whom he was dealing with on the Iranian side. Some Western officials remain uncertain whether Iran’s leaders have sought to use Iraq as a conduit or whether the idea is mainly Mr. Maliki’s initiative,” the reports said.

State Department officials declined to comment on Mr. Maliki’s move or what steps the United States might have taken in response.

However Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman was quoted as saying: “As we have repeatedly said, we are open to direct talks with Iran in order to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”

The idea of direct talks including with Iraqis acting as facilitator is not something new.

Talks were held in Baghdad, but they were focused on the conflict in Iraq and the Iranian regime’s support for armed groups there — not the nuclear question — and got nowhere.
The Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei warned Sunday that Washington was “not trustworthy” enough to forge diplomatic ties with.

The remarks came after some U.S. officials and a group of lawmakers urged diplomacy with Iranian regime’s incoming president Hassan Rouhani.

“I said at the beginning of the (Iranian) year that I am not optimistic about negotiations with the US, though in the past years I did not forbid negotiating (with them) about certain issues like Iraq,” he told regime’s officials at an “iftar” evening meal that breaks the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“The Americans are … not trustworthy and they are not honest in their encounters… The stance of American officials over past months once again confirms that one should not be optimistic,” he said at the iftar, attended by Hassan Rouhani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Khamenei has the final say in the Iranian regime’s major policy issues.

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