WASHINGTON – U.S. and Iranian officials will meet this week for a second round of talks over Iraqi security measures in which Americans are to broach Iranian efforts to destabilize its neighbor, a senior administration official told FOX News on Sunday.
The Iraqi foreign minister also confirmed the meeting to take place in Baghdad.
"I can confirm that the United States and Iran have agreed to meet on July 24th in Baghdad," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The Bush administration had said last week that it was ready to hold a second round of direct talks with Iran, and Iran said it had accepted a U.S. invitation for talks.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Sean McCormack told FOX News on Sunday that the United States wants to repeat the clear message it sent in May — the first break in a 27-year diplomatic freeze — in which U.S. officials met with Iranians and told them to stop arming Iraqi Shiite militias with explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, that are used to tear through even heavy armor vehicles. EFPs have been blamed for killing hundreds of U.S. troops in recent months.
"The Iranians are continued to be involved in supplying technology — the know-how — as well the training and the materials for these explosive form devices that pose a threat to our troops. Also, in helping to arm the sectarian militias that are really stoking the violence in Iraq. So, we simply want the Iranians to match their actions with their words," he said.
This week's meeting is being scheduled as the U.S. military took into custody two terror suspects who may be affiliated with an elite Iranian force or perhaps a smuggling ring bringing EFPs into Iraq from Iran. The military officials say U.S. forces found numerous weapons with the suspects they captured Sunday in a raid near the Iranian border on the east of Iraq.
McCormack said the Iranians clearly have not yet heeded the U.S. message, but officials "think it's worthwhile and appropriate, though, to perhaps have a second meeting ... to send that same message."
McCormack said officials want to find an "overlap of interests" in both countries seeking a "stable, more secure Iraq."
"They say they want strategic stability in Iraq. Well, they should start acting it," he said.
FOX News' Malini Bawa and Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.