This is a charade:
The United States and Iran held their most high-profile, bilateral talks in nearly three decades today, adhering to an agenda that focused strictly on the war in Iraq and on how the two nations, bitter adversaries, could work to improve conditions here.
The meeting between Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker of the United States and Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi of Iran — held in the offices of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad — produced no agreements nor any firm promises of a follow-up meeting between the two nations, officials said.
But Mr. Crocker told a news conference that the talks “proceeded positively” and were “business-like.” Both sides, he said, articulated a common desire to help stabilize Iraq.
On the one hand it's good that an Iranian official and an American official shook hands. But an important point: "adhering to an agenda...focused strictly on the war in Iraq" will practically ensure that absolutely nothing gets done to ameliorate Iranian-American enmity. Iran has very little interest in adhering to plans based upon America's strategic objectives (whatever those are) in Iraq, and America has similarly little interest in allowing Iran to have any strategic influence over Iraq policy. Because as long as America and Iran are so bitterly at odds, the countries' strategic objectives in Iraq will run counter to each other. Specifically, if the United States remains committed to the position that Iran needs to be absolutely isolated in the Persian Gulf, and that Iran must not try secure a future ally in Iraq, then nobody should be surprised that Iran, acting rationally, wants almost exactly the opposite of this.
Diplomatic efforts this myopic can only bring into stark relief the fact that America and Iran have fundamental differences, and that those differences shape their approaches to Iraq. And until the two countries reach some common ground on the wider issue of Iran's place in a post-Iraq Middle East, then the two countries can talk past each other all day about Iraq strategy and almost no good will come of it.