Iran-US getting all ‘chatty’.

It’s difficult not to be fascinated by these developments. Over the past several years, there have been two distinct camps.

First there are the “We must talk to our enemies” people. Then there are the “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” people.

Certainly, there are a few who have held the middle ground. But it’s a precious few.

I’d be interested to hear from representatives of the two camps, now that the actions that have been so hotly contested are coming to pass.

BAGHDAD: Iran, Iraq and the United States have agreed to set up a security subcommittee to carry forward their talks on restoring stability in Iraq, the American ambassador said Tuesday at the end of a second round of groundbreaking talks in the Iraqi capital with his Iranian counterpart.

“We discussed ways forward and one of the issues we discussed was the formation of a security subcommittee that would address at a expert or technical level some issues relating to security, be that support for violent militias, Al Qaeda or border security,” the U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker, said after the meeting. The Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said officials would meet as early as Wednesday to work out how the panel will operate.

“We hope that the next round of talks will be on a higher level if progress is made,” Zebari said.

But underscoring the tensions between the two foes, Crocker reiterated Washington’s accusations that Iran is fueling violence in Iraq by arming and training Shiite militias. He warned that no progress could be made until Tehran changed its ways.

“The fact is, as we made very clear in today’s talks, that over the roughly two months since our last meeting we’ve actually seen militia-related activity that could be attributed to Iranian support go up and not down,” Crocker said, citing testimony from prisoners and weapons and ammunition confiscated in Iraq as evidence.

The Iranian ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, countered that Tehran was helping Iraq deal with the security situation but that Iraqis were “victimized by terror and the presence of foreign forces” on their territory.

He said his delegation also demanded the release of five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq. The United States has said the five were linked to the Quds Force, an elite arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It has accused the force of arming and training Iraqi militants. Iran says the five are diplomats who were legally in Iraq.

The meeting was opened by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who appealed for help to stabilize Iraq and warned that militants from Al Qaeda and other terror groups were now fleeing and finding refuge elsewhere.

An Iraqi official who was present at the meeting said Crocker and Qomi engaged in a heated exchange early in the talks. It began when Crocker confronted the Iranian with charges that Tehran was supporting Shiite militiamen who were killing U.S. troops, providing them with weapons and training. Qomi dismissed the allegations, saying the Americans had no proof, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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