Iran to hold Iraq summit

Iran has invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to Tehran for a weekend summit with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, has accepted the invitation and will fly to the Iranian capital on Saturday, say close aides.

"All three countries intend to hold a three-way summit among Iraq, Iran and Syria to discuss the security situation and the repercussions for stability of the region," Ali al-Adeeb, a legislator from Iraq's governing Dawa party, said.

Key players

A spokesman for Ahmadinejad said on Monday that Talabani's visit was scheduled several weeks ago.

However, Hassan Kazimi Qumi, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, also said that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, would be in Tehran to attend the talks.
Bassem Sharif, a minister from the main Shia bloc in the Iraqi parliament, confirmed that Talabani was scheduled to travel to Iran on Saturday.
"He is going to Iran because he was invited a long time ago by the Iranian president himself," Sharif said.
Sharif said that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, could also attend the talk in Tehran.

"There is some expectation that the Syrian president may be present," Sharif said.

"There is a real desire to have such a three-way summit and there could be a surprise."

Conflicting reports
But Hiwa Othman, Talabani's spokesperson, denied that al-Assad would attend the meeting.

"There is no such three-way summit in Tehran and our president is looking forward to meet his Syrian counterpart in Damascus at some point of time," Othman said.

"I asked the president about the three-way summit and he ruled out the possibility of such a meeting taking place over the weekend."

Talabani, a Kurdish former rebel leader, enjoyed good relations with Iran before the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Iran backed Kurdish separatist movements, including Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, during the 1980s.

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