Iran Blames Technical Reasons for Delay in Talks With U.S.

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that technical reasons were behind the delay in talks between Iranian and U.S. officials on Iraq and denied new U.S. charges that Tehran was stoking violence in its neighbor.

Tehran on Thursday postponed what would have been a fourth round of talks. The move has prompted Washington to question Tehran's commitment to dialogue.

Washington accuses Iran of destabilizing Iraq. Tehran blames the U.S. occupation for the unrest. David Satterfield, the U.S. State Department's Iraq coordinator, said Friday that Iran was "intent on continuing to promote violence within Iraq."

The U.S.-Iranian security talks are one of the few forums in which officials from the two bitter foes have direct contact. Diplomatic ties between Washington and Tehran have been frozen for almost three decades.

"The postponement of Iran-U.S. talks has been due to technical reasons, it has nothing to do with any other issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said at a news conference. The comments were carried and translated by Iran's English-language Press TV.

He said an exact date for talks would be announced later.

Washington has used the talks to urge Iran to stop giving weapons and training to Shiite militias in Iraq, including armor-piercing bombs known as explosively formed penetrators that have killed hundreds of U.S. troops. Iran denies any role.

In response to Satterfield's comments, Hosseini said Iran "has had no hand in the unrest in Iraq, there are no pieces of evidence in this regard."