We have yet to hear a plausible explanation for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's sudden decision to cancel talks with the U.S.

What exactly did Iran want to hold these talks in the first place? Why did it change its mind once a new [Shiite] Iraqi prime minister was selected?

Ahmadinejad's statement shows that the long-awaited mission - at least as far as Iran is concerned - is no longer needed, because of the selection of the new prime minister. Iran apparently feels no need to talk to the U.S. about anything else.

A senior Iranian official tried to explain the abrupt and nervous refusal of Ahmadinejad to enter direct talks with Washington by saying that the President thought that with Iraq's first step on the path to a stable government, the talks were unnecessary.

But the lingering question is what Tehran sought to gain by seeking and then rejecting talks with the U.S. over Iraq.

Iran must have at least a few wise men capable of seeing that their own political example hasn't a chance of success in Iraq. Despite the shackles that have constrained its political progress for decades, Iraq is a country that shuns isolation.

Iranian officials should know that good relations are based on the development of economic, commercial and tourist cooperation between neighboring countries, both of which are endowed with huge oil reserves and human resources.

Such relations are far better than those based on hegemony and exploitation, or policies based on primitive motives and the incitement of the tired and wary Iraqi street.

Iran, more than any other country, should have shown more effective solidarity with Iraqis as they strive to turn a new political page.

Tehran should not have fallen into U.S. trap by only heeding the voices that pleased it. Iran must know that by any measure, in its standoff with the U.S. it is losing its bet on the Iraqi card. Even hinting at that card sends the wrong signal to Iraqis, who have already borne the brunt of several wars.

Iraqis do not want to be fodder for yet another war.