50 Killed in two Major Sadr City Bombings
US & Iran Speak at Baghdad Meet
Guerrillas detonated two major bombs in Shiite Sadr City (East Baghdad) on Saturday, killing nearly 50 persons and wounding many more. They set off the bombs not very far away from where diplomats from neighboring countries and the US were meeting to discuss the future of Iraq.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that some one-on-one discussions took place between the US and Iran and between the US and Syria. US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and high State Department official David Satterfield represented the US at the Baghdad conference, which was attended by 16 nations. The conference created three working committees.
Al-Hayat adds: “Sources told al-Hayat in Baghdad that “a direct dialogue between the US and Iran, and between the US and Syria, will take place far from the bright lights, through the security committee, which will comprise representatives of Iraq, Britain, and Saudi Arabia. Further dialogue will take place in the Refugee Committee, to which Egypt and Jordan will be added.”
Al-Hayat says that the time and the place of the follow-up conference have not been set. There will, however, be a conference in Istanbul in April of regional prime ministers, which US Secretary of State Condi Rice will attend. It seems likely to continue the work of Saturday’s conference.
At the Baghdad summit, the US delegation spoke directly to the Iranian one about the relationship of the two countries inside Iraq. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari maintained that they did not broach any wider issues.
Iran and the US traded barbs at the conference, with Iran blaming US for Iraq’s turmoil.