US should talk to Iran, Syria over Iraq — Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait’s emir told the US secretary of state that Washington should talk to Syria and Iran to improve the situation in Iraq, the Kuwaiti foreign minister said Wednesday.

Sheikh Mohammad Al Sabah told reporters that when Condoleezza Rice met Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, on Tuesday, she had spoken of the “the difficulties facing the Iraqi government in imposing security, and [difficulties caused by] outside interference”.

“That is why his highness [the emir] stressed the importance of a dialogue with [Iraq’s] neighbours, and the importance that there is no estrangement between them and America,” Sheikh Mohammad said. He quoted the emir as telling Rice it was important to have a “dialogue with Syria, in particular, and with Iran in the interest of Gulf security in general”. Rice came to Kuwait on Tuesday for a meeting on Iraq with her counterparts from the six Arab Gulf states plus Jordan and Egypt.

Speaking at Kuwait airport before flying to Oman, Sheikh Mohammad did not reveal what the eight foreign ministers told Rice about the new US plan for Iraq. But he said Rice had told the emir that US President George W. Bush had found it difficult to send 21,500 more US troops to Iraq, but he had taken the decision to prevent the country from slipping into a civil war. In announcing his Iraq plan last week, Bush rejected the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan US panel, which had urged talks with Damascus and Tehran on ways of curbing the sectarian violence in Iraq.

Bush accused Iran and Syria of failing to stop fighters from crossing into Iraq to join the insurgency, and blamed Iran in particular for providing material for attacks on American troops — a charge that Tehran denies. Iran and Syria are believed to have influence with insurgents in Iraq.

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