Tuesday, May 29, 2007

US - Iran talks in Baghdad end without concrete results

Yesterday, May 28th, the US and Iran had their first face-to-face talks in 27 years, in Baghdad.

According to the US representative, Ryan Crocker, both delegations `agreed on policy and guiding principles' and the talks were positive.

However, if you read between the lines, there's something of a different message.

The US came out and asked Iran point blank to stop arming and training the Shiite militias, and to end the arms and explosives flow from Iran into Iraq. The Iranians reportedly rejected any US accusations of interfering in Iraq, and countered by blaming the Iraqi security situation on the US occupation and on `inadequate preparation of the Iraqi security forces'.

Moreover, Iran actually proposed a `tri-lateral' coordination of Iraqi security composed of the US, the Iraqi government and Iran. In other words, after doing their best to create chaos in Iraq, the Iranians now want to be deferred to as equal partners in any solutions!

Significantly, the Iranian delegation was headed by Hassan Kazemi Qumi, a `diplomat' who is also a senior officer in the Republican Guards' elite Quds Force - the same units that have been caught in Iraq supporting the Shia death squads and militias.

One issue that may or may not have come up is a prisoner exchange. The US is holding a number of Quds force personnel captured in Iraq, while Iran has arrested and imprisoned several
Iranian-Americans visiting in the country on charges of espionage.

This may also be the motive behind the kidnapping of five Britons from the Iraqi government's Finance ministry, in the heart of the heavily fortified `green zone' by men in Iraqi police officers' uniforms complete with a convoy of 19 Iraqi police SUV's.

Once the captives were firmly in tow, the police convoy drove off in the direction of the Mahdi Army's headquarters in Sadr City.

Iran may just be upping the ante and improving its' side of any prisoner swap.

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