Iraq Conference Ends Without High-Level Meeting Between US and Iran

An international conference on Iraq ended Friday without top-level meetings between the United States and Iran.

Iraqi officials had hoped senior diplomats from Iran and the U.S. would meet on the sidelines of the conference. There was instead an ambassador-level meeting.

The White House said Friday the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker met for a few minutes with an Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi.

At the conclusion of the conference in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Iran to stop arming extremists and supporting terrorism in Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki blamed Iraq's predicament on the United States, saying the occupation of Iraq has only worsened the situation.

Iraq's foreign minister indicated some disappointment that the two states could not settle their differences for the sake of Iraq's future. But Hoshyar Zubari said he thought the contact that occurred was a positive development.

Rice said she considered it a breakthrough to have the United States in the same room with all of Iraq's neighbors.

At the conference, Iraqi leaders discussed improving security and restoring stability with all neighboring countries. Also attending were representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and members of the G-8 group of industrialized nations.

On Thursday, the conference approved a new agreement between Iraq and the international community, known as the International Compact on Iraq.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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