SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, May 4 (KUNA) -- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed a meeting on Iraq held here Friday as "very successful".
Rice made the remarks at a news conference following the conclusion of the conference of Iraq's neighbors, held in Egypt's Red Sea Sharm El-Sheikh resort.
The conference, which was preceded by the Conference of the International Compact for Iraq (ICI) on Thursday, aimed to set out a plan for rallying Arab and international support for Iraq's security, stability and economic development.
Rice said during the meeting, the Iraqi government unequivocally vowed to provide a congenial atmosphere for national reconciliation in Iraq.
She also reiterated US support for the Iraqi government, cautioning against security vacuum as a very serious matter that would increase terrorism.
Rice noted that the Sharm El-Sheikh conferences were meant to help the democratically elected Iraqi government to meet its commitments before the international community.
Rice, whose country broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 when Iranian students held 52 U.S. citizens hostage, said that if she had had the chance she would have met Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
"The opportunity simply didn't arise for the foreign minister of Iran and me to meet ... I would have taken that opportunity," she told the news conference. "But our officials did ... have an opportunity to exchange views about the substance of this meeting, which is how to help Iraq be more secure," she added.
On Thursday evening, Mottaki left dinner in Sharm el-Sheikh before Rice arrived to sit at the same table but Rice denied that the Iranian minister had snubbed her by not agreeing to meet.
"Well you can ask him why he didn't make an effort. Look, I'm not given to chasing anyone," she said.
Asked why he did not meet Rice, Mottaki told a news conference: "There was no time, no appointment and no plans." "A meeting between foreign ministers has certain requirements (such as) political will and it also has to be clear on what basis such a meeting would be held," he added.
Asked about Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari's remarks, saying it was in the interest of Iraq to reduce US-Iranian tensions, Rice said she had told Zebari that the US had no desire to do anything that could further complicate the situation in Iraq.
On her meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mualem, she termed the meeting as an opportunity to highlight the need to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, wishing that Syria could be more helpful in this respect.
Rice defended the presence of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, saying that such forces went to Iraq upon a resolution from the UN Security Council and request from the Iraqi government.
She expressed hope that the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki could disarm militias in Iraq, declining to set a timetable for foreign troop withdrawal. (end) kz.mt KUNA 042032 May 07NNNN