Monday, September 25, 2006

Iran's gulf of misunderstanding with US

BBC NEWS Middle East Iran's gulf of misunderstanding with US

Don't understand what folks are talking about, when they talk about missed chances for diplomacy with Iran? Check out this BBC article, and then ask yourself, "Does this administration think it can iron out difficulties in the Middle East purely through force of arms?" Think about this story on how much "safer" we are after our handling of Iraq. Do you see any real Middle East policy here? Do you see evidence of mature leadership, leading us away from war, and guiding us toward a peaceful, safer Middle East, and world?

In the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US... In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute's silence at Tehran's football stadium. Some of Iran's leaders also sensed an opportunity. America quickly fixed its sights on the Taleban in Afghanistan with whom the Iranians had nearly come to war just three years earlier.
With a common enemy in the Taleban, the two found grounds to co-operate.
After the Afghan war, US negotiators worked closely with Iranian counterparts to form a new Afghan government.
Some of the talks between US and Iranian officials moved beyond Afghanistan and there was hope that it could lead to tentative re-engagement and eventually a restoration of relations...And just a few weeks after Iran and the US had worked so closely over Afghanistan, Iran was described by President George W Bush as part of an "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.
Javad Zarif, now Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, said this was a big surprise at after the co-operation over the Afghan government.
"We were all shocked by the fact that the US had such a short memory and was so ungrateful about what had happened just a month ago," he said... Another potential opening came in May 2003.
America's swift march to Baghdad the previous month had led to fears in Tehran that it would be next.
So Tehran made a dramatic - but surprisingly little known - approach to the Americans.
Iran's offer came in the form of a letter... In it, Iran appeared willing to put everything on the table - including being completely open about its nuclear programme, helping to stabilise Iraq, ending its support for Palestinian militant groups and help in disarming Hezbollah... What did Iran want? Top of the list was a halt in US hostile behaviour and a statement that "Iran did not belong to 'the axis of evil'".
The letter was the product of an internal debate inside Tehran and had the support of leaders at the highest level.
"That letter went to the Americans to say that we are ready to talk, we are ready to address our issues," explains Seyed Adeli, who was then a deputy foreign minister in Iran. But in Washington, the letter was ignored.

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