WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday the United States remains open to negotiations with Iran and Syria if both these countries change what she characterized as confrontational policies in the Middle East.And she finishes with this cheerful note:
Iran has been frequently criticized by U.S. officials for supplying weapons to insurgent forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and for pressing ahead with a nuclear weapons program.
Rice said the U.S. would not meet with the top Iranian leaders until they suspend their uranium enrichment program, a stance she said is supported by the U.N. Security Council. Even a short suspension of Tehran's enrichment program, which could lead to the fissile material needed for an atomic weapon, would be welcome, she said.
«As long as the Iranians are talking and practicing enrichment, we're not getting anywhere,» Rice said.
Rice just returned from a trip to Iraq where she said progress has been made reducing violence since a surge of U.S. forces earlier this year, adding 30,000 troops for a total of more than 160,000 now.
«Iraq today is a different country than it was a year ago,» she said. But she also called the security gains fragile and said long-term success hinges on the Iraqis settling their political differences.It sure is a different country from four years ago, too.