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Iraqi Prime Minister to Visit Iran Saturday


Iraqi officials and state media report that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will travel to Iran for bilateral talks beginning Saturday.

The agenda for the talks could not be confirmed but Ali al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi spokesman, told Reuters news agency "all issues will be on the table."

Relations between the former enemies have improved since U.S.-led forces ousted Iraq's Saddam Hussein in 2003 and a Shi'ite led-government came to power in Baghdad. But ties have been troubled by accusations that Iran is fomenting violence in Iraq by funding and arming Shi'ite militias. Iran denies meddling in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military reports U.S. forces killed two militants and detained 31 others during operations targeting al-Qaida in Iraq in northern and central parts of the country over the past two days.

The U.S. military also reports that troops operating northeast of Baghdad have captured a man suspected of making and planting roadside bombs that have killed Iraqi civilians and security force members.

Elsewhere, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner praised the political stability and security of northern Iraq's Kurdish region. He held a news conference with Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani in the northern city of Irbil late Sunday.

Kouchner praised the cooperative efforts between the Kurdistan regional government and the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. Earlier, the French foreign minister opened a diplomatic office in Irbil.

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

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