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Car Bomb Blast in Baghdad Kills 9 as Iran's Foreign Minister Arrives for Visit


Iraqi police say a car bomb explosion in Baghdad Friday killed at least nine people and wounded more than 30 others.

The latest incident comes as Iraq's newly installed government struggles to fill the key security posts of defense and interior ministers.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said Iraqi forces will be able to take control of security around the country within a year-and-a-half.

In other news, Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, visiting Baghdad Friday, said Tehran has decided not to have direct talks with Washington over the situation in Iraq.

Mottaki accused the U.S. of using the proposed meeting for propaganda, and of raising other issues besides Iraq.

The U.S. has expressed interest in speaking to Iran about the sectarian struggle in Iraq, not about the standoff over Tehran's nuclear activities.

The U.S. has acknowledged that Iran can have a positive impact on the internal situation in Iraq because of its influence with Iraqi Shi'ites. Mottaki's visit to Baghdad is the first by a senior Iranian official in almost a year.

In another development, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee, is preparing to address his forces in Iraq to re-inforce the ideals, values and standards of U.S. Marines.

The U.S. military is investigating allegations that Marines have killed at least 16 Iraqi civilians in two separate incidents in Haditha in November and in Hamandiyah last month.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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