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Helicopter crash raises death toll in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Two coalition service members killed in chopper crash, 12 hurt
  • NEW: Iran and U.S. agree to hold new talks on security in Iraq
  • Director of the Iraq Geological Survey killed in shooting
  • Gunmen opened fire as Moussa Jaafar's car passed through a Shiite area
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least seven people were killed in and around the Iraqi capital Tuesday, including two coalition service members and the director of the Iraq Geological Survey.

The deaths came as the United States and Iran agreed to hold new talks on security in war-ravaged Iraq.

The two coalition service members were killed and 12 were hurt in a helicopter crash southeast of Baghdad, according to Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Initial reports indicated the crash was "not the result of enemy fire," the military said.

Earlier, Moussa Jaafar, the survey director, was in a car driving through a Shiite neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad when gunmen opened fire on his car, an Interior Ministry official said.

Jaafar and another passenger were killed, and the driver was wounded, the ministry official said.

The Iraq Geological Survey is part of the country's Department of Agriculture and is charged with surveying, studying and assessing Iraq's terrain.

In a separate incident, two people were fatally shot in a Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad, the ministry official said.

Another person was killed in a roadside bombing in a Shiite neighborhood in southwestern Baghdad. The blast also injured six people, the official said.

A separate roadside bombing, in a Shiite neighborhood on the eastern side of the city, left three people wounded, the official said.

Ending such violence will be the focus of the new round of talks between the U.S. and Iran, though a date has not yet been set for the session, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Philip Reeker.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said it will occur in "the near future," according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

The talks follow three previous meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials in Baghdad.

"Clearly, we think that there's some value and some worth in keeping this channel open and continuing to be open to having these meetings," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday. "We'll see, over time, what the result is."

Such U.S.-Iranian engagements were suggested by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which recommended U.S.-Iranian talks as a possible way to help improve the environment in Iraq.

The Iraqi government -- which is led by Shiite Muslim parties with close ties to Iran -- has urged both countries to put aside their differences to help bring about peace and security.

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since 1980.

In other news Tuesday, the U.S. military announced a series of raids targeting al Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S.-led coalition troops killed five insurgents and detained 11 terror suspects between Sunday night and Tuesday, the military said.

The operations occurred near Samarra and in Rabiya, southwest of Baquba.

"These operations exemplify the continued success we're having in operations against terrorist networks," said Maj. Winfield Danielson, spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, the formal name for the U.S.-led forces.

"With the help of Iraqi citizens and their security forces, we will succeed in defeating al Qaeda in Iraq." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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