Iraq has announced an initial conference of world and regional powers will be held in Baghdad on March 10 to discuss ways to stabilize Iraq. Iraq’s government said Wednesday it is inviting neighboring states and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to the meeting.The United States and Syria have confirmed that they will attend the meeting. Iran is considering the invitation.
The White House said U.S. participation in the meeting does not change its policy on Iran and Syria. Spokesman Tony Snow said the U.S. will not hold direct talks at the conference with Iran or Syria.
The U.S. has accused Syria and Iran of fueling violence in Iraq. Both countries deny the allegations.
The head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, said Wednesday his country will attend the meetings if it is in Iraq’s interest — despite tension between Iran and the United States.
In early April, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend a follow-up ministerial-level meeting elsewhere in the region, to which the Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers are expected to be invited.
In violence Wednesday, Iraqi police say a car bomb blast in southern Baghdad killed at least 10 people and wounded seven others. Northeast of Baghdad, gunmen killed two brothers of a prominent Sunni Arab politician in troubled Diyala province.
The U.S. military says soldiers killed eight suspected militants and captured six others in raids in and around Baghdad. Gunfire also killed one British soldier in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and a U.S. soldier in Baghdad