By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
July 24, 2007 - The success of today's talks between the United States, Iraq and Iran will be measured not by words, but through changing conditions on the ground in Iraq, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker said in Baghdad today. Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari hosted the meeting, which included U.S. and Iranian officials, to discuss security in Iraq. The talks were the second for the group, which last met May 28 in the first direct talks between the United States and Iran in 27 years.
Speaking with Baghdad reporters following the second round of talks, Crocker expressed frustration that Iran continues to focus on process rather than results. "This discussion has to be measured in results, not in principles or promises," he said. "And thus far, the results on the ground are not encouraging."
Despite Iraq's stated policy of promoting a peaceful and stable Iraq, Crocker said, its actions aren't measuring up. In fact, evidence shows there's been "an escalation, not a de-escalation" in Iran's involvement in Iraq since the last trilateral meeting.
"As we made very clear in today's talks, over the roughly two months since our last meeting, we have actually seen militia-related activity that can be attributed to Iranian support go up and not down," he said. "And you all have seen in (Multinational Force Iraq) briefings the detail we have on that, the evidence that supports it."
Crocker said the U.S. delegation reiterated its concern that Iran is arming and training violent militia elements. He noted that statements by detainees and Iraqi munitions captured in Iraq also point directly to Tehran.
"There is no question in our minds that this support is going on," he said. "It is not something we need to prove in a court of law."
While it's important that the United States and Iran agree in principle to support a democratic, stable Iraq, Crocker said, these principles amount to little if they're not acted on. "The test and the challenge is applying those principles on the ground," he said.
The three delegations agreed that al Qaeda poses a threat to all three countries and discussed forming a security subcommittee to address it, Crocker said.
He said he made it clear that today's meeting would focus only on Iraqi security. "This is not a forum to address other issues in the Iranian-U.S. relationship," he said.