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Iran Ready for Talks With US on Iraq

The White House says any talks between the United States and Iran will be limited to issues related to Iraq, and will not include discussion of Iran's suspect nuclear program.

Speaking Thursday, spokesman Scott McClellan said U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad has a "very narrow mandate" to speak with Iranian diplomats about Iraq.

Earlier in the day, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, said Iran is willing to open talks with Washington to help stabilize Iraq. No venue or timetable for talks has been announced.

With sectarian violence growing, a top Iraqi Shi'ite leader, Abdel Aziz Hakim, urged mainly Shi'ite Iran on Wednesday to help resolve disputed issues for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

If the talks occur, it would be the first publicly known direct bilateral meeting between the two sides since Washington severed ties with Iran 26 years ago.

The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran in April of 1980, five months after protesters seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. American hostages were held captive for more than a year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP .