Iran 'to attend' Iraq conference

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Iran has confirmed that its representatives will attend a conference on Iraq set to take place in Egypt later this week.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rang the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to tell him Iran would be at the conference, according to Iraqi officials.

A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, Mohammad Al Hosseini, told the Associated Press news agency that Iran had "some questions and ambiguities about the agenda" of the conference.

It is expected that the Iranian envoy Ali Larijani, who has flown to Baghdad, will discuss these "ambiguities" ahead of the conference with top Iraqi officials.

Iran has said it would announce whether or not it would be at the Sharm El-Shiek conference on Sunday or Monday.

Iran has close ties with Iraq's Shia majority community, but the Iraqi government couldn't initially persuade Iran to attend the impending conference.

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is also due to attend the meeting, as well as Iraq's neighbours.

The US has accused Iran in the past of helping to arm Shia insurgents in Iraq to fuel the increased sectarian violence that has plagued the country since the US-lead invasion in 2003.

President George Bush is currently under increased pressure from the Democratic-led Congress to sign a bill to begin the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by the end of the year.

But Mr Bush has already said that he will veto any bill which calls for a withdrawal and has advised against any "artificial timetables" which he believes would be a mistake.

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