What happened
The U.S. and Iran agreed this week to hold a fourth round of talks on Iraq. Government officials in Baghdad say cooperation between the two adversaries are crucial to improving security, although tensions remain. “We joke around here that we don’t want to be stuck in a war between the ‘Axis of Evil’ and the ‘Great Satan,’” said Amar Hakim, secretary-general of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Iraq’s largest political party. (The Kansas City Star)

What the commentators said
“It’s clear that the surge by U.S. troops has really dampened violence in Iraq,” said Thomas Friedman in The New York Times (free registration). But instead of getting sidetracked by a push to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, shouldn’t the Bush administration be launching a “surge in diplomacy to finish the job” in Iraq?

Al Qaida in Iraq is definitely losing, said David Ignatius in The Washington Post (free registration), but we “aren’t exactly ‘winning.’” The terrorists have torpedoed their cause by “alienating Iraqis,” and Iranian-backed militias have backed off recently. But remember: “The hard work of building a stable Iraqi state is still ahead.”

“Yes, Iraq could still slip back into reverse gear,” said Ralph Peters in the New York Post (free registration). “And no, we're not going to get a perfect outcome.” But attacks of every kind are down by half. “The positive indicators are now so strong that the left's defeatist lies are losing traction among the American people.”

All the recent gains could be lost in a flash if war erupts on the Turkish border, said Lionel Beehner in USA Today. Open fighting between Turkey and Kurdish separatists “could destabilize the one region in the country with any modicum of stability.” President Bush is reluctant to send U.S. troops to help, but he shouldn’t be. “Kurdistan is the one place in Iraq where U.S. troops would be greeted with flowers and sweets.”