Iraqi Foreign Minister: U.S., Iranian Officials Have Met at Ambassadorial Level

Ambassadors from Iran and the United States met Friday on the sidelines of an Iraq summit, Iraq's foreign minister said.

He said the meeting did not include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. It was the second such meeting, at a lower than foreign minister level, since March 10.

Hoshyar Zebari said that "there was a meeting on experts level today. I don't know what happened during this meeting but I believe it was positive and indications are positive." He then clarified that he meant "ambassadors," instead of experts.

He added that "despite the fact that there was no direct meeting but they were in the same room and they were discussing the issues."

According to Zebari, the "atmosphere was positive in general despite the fact that they had different opinions."

"This process needs more work. There are many doubts and an absence of confidence between the two parties, but it is in the interest of Iraq to see a reduction in the tensions."

It was the second discussion at such a level since March 10, when U.S. and Iranian envoys met in Baghdad during a one-day regional conference.

"This is the beginning hopefully of a process," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said, referring to the ambassadors' meeting.