Iran shifts attention to brokering peace in Iraq
Details from a secret meeting between top Iranian and Iraqi officials signal Iran's aim to 'stop arming' militias.
ISTANBUL, Turkey; and BAGHDAD
While the deal inked Monday was tested Tuesday as militants in Moqtada al-Sadr's Baghdad stronghold launched overnight attacks on US forces, Iraqi officials say that Iranian influence was key to reaching the deal with the anti-American cleric aimed at ending weeks of deadly fighting.
Iran's intervention comes as previously undisclosed details are emerging of a secret meeting between Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, other senior Iraqi officials, and the commander of Iran's Qods Force, Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in April, after clashes with Sadr's Mahdi Army in Basra. In that meeting, General Soleimani "was deeply concerned" and "promised to stop arming groups in Iraq and to ensure that groups halt activities against US forces," according to a description given by a US official to the Monitor.
Soleimani gave Mr. Talabani a "message" for US Gen. David Petraeus, too. He noted that his portfolio includes Iraq, Gaza, and Lebanon and that he was willing to "send a small team" to "discuss any issue" with the Americans.
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