U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected the idea of holding talks with Iran and Syria about reducing violence in Iraq.
Rice told the Washington Post newspaper she opposes the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's recommendation to engage the two countries. She said she will not allow Syria to interfere in Lebanon or let Iran obtain a nuclear weapon as a price for their help in bringing peace to Iraq.
The secretary said that if the two countries had an interest in stabilizing Iraq they would do it anyway. President Bush is to announce his decision on a new strategy for Iraq in early January.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he favors talks with the United States. He told an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that Washington should hold talks with his country and Iran on stabilizing the Middle East.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.