Iraq has asked the United States to play a more active role in helping to end its 3-year-old war with neighboring Iran, administration officials said yesterday.
Iraqi envoy Ismat Kittani, visiting Washington on what the officials described as "a mission to raise U.S. interest in the war," met Wednesday with Undersecretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Nicholas A. Veliotes, assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.
Kittani, an undersecretary at the foreign ministry in Baghdad, is the first senior Iraqi official to visit the United States for some time. He also is meeting with congressmen and visiting such organizations as the Carnegie Foundation and Brookings Institution.
Kittani, the officials said, did not make any specific suggestions as to how the United States might help resolve the Persian Gulf conflict, but commented that western interests in the region were at least as important as they are in Chad, which in recent weeks has received $25 million in American aid to help fight Libyan-backed insurgents.
Iraq does not expect the United States to provide military assistance for its war with Iran, the officials said, but believes that more pressure could be exerted on the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to seek a negotiated peace.
The United States is officially neutral toward the war, but some U.S. arms and parts reportedly have continued to reach Iran. The United States has no formal diplomatic links with Tehran, but has extensive ties with Iraq despite the severance of formal relations in 1967.
U.S. officials said they are not pressing Iraq to restore those relations and are satisifed with a "non-polemical dialogue" between the two countries. Iraq maintains a large interests section in the Indian Embassy here, and U.S. diplomats in Baghdad come under Belgian protection.