WASHINGTON – The Bush administration confirmed on Wednesday that Iraq has made overtures to Iran and said it was up to Baghdad to work out its relations with its neighbors.
A senior administration official said Jalal Talabani (search), the interim president of the Iraqi Governing Council (search), signed several documents of mutual understanding during a visit Tuesday to Tehran.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iraqi government had to work out its relations with countries in the region.
The U.S.-led Coalition for Provisional Authority (search), which is headed by L. Paul Bremer III, appointed the Iraqi council to help arrange transition to Iraqi self-rule.
The Bush administration has since reached agreement with the council to accelerate the transition and an end to the U.S. occupation by next June.
During a visit by Talabani to Turkey on Wednesday, a spokesman for the interim president's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Adel Murad, said Iran was the first country other than the United States to recognize the council.
"They helped us to control the area and they closed the border," stopping infiltration into the Kurdistan region, he said.
Last month, Murad said, council aides went to Tehran for preliminary talks.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, meanwhile, dismissed a call by France for an end to the transition within six weeks.
"We would like to do it as soon as possible," Powell told France TV3. "But it has to be done in a realistic way and it has to be sovereignty that is given to a group of leaders, effective, prominent leaders, who enjoy solid legitimacy with the people."
Powell said "there really is not yet a government that enjoys legitimacy of the people to which one would turn authority over to."