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US, Iran on tiptoe, seeking eye contact

The White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a carefully worded remark on Monday, “As of now, the president [Barack Obama] is not expected to meet his Iranian counterpart at the UN Assembly.” The Iranians also maintain there is no “plan” at the moment. 

But two statements by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday merit careful attention. Khamenei was addressing the commanders of the IRGC. He underscored his earlier assurance that Iran will not pursue a nuclear weapon program. He said, “We don’t accept nuclear weapons, not for the sake of the US or others [pressures] but because of our beliefs, and when we say that no one should have nuclear weapons, certainly we are not after them either.” 
At the same function, Khamenei also signaled that President Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policy thinking that places emphasis on diplomacy enjoys his support. He said, “I agree with the issue that I called some years ago as heroic flexibility since this move is highly good and necessary on certain occasions, but with commitment to one main condition…”  
Any longtime observer of Iran will decode the obscure words to mean that Khamenei signalled his approval of direct talks with the US. The two back-to-oback statements come just a week ahead of Rouhani’s journey to New York. 
Meanwhile, Iran acknowledged that Rouhani received a letter from Obama congratulating him on his election victory and replied to it, and that the letter also touched on “other issues”. 
Spiegel has carried a report quoting intelligence sources that Iran is prepared to decommission the controversial Fordo enrichment plant and allow international inspectors to monitor the removal of centrifuges, and that Rouhani may make a formal announcement in his speech on Sept 24. The IAEA-Iran talks are scheduled for Sept 27. 
Already, after meeting the newly-appointed Iranian ambassador to the IAEA Ali Akbar Salehi (former foreign minister) in Vienna on Tuesday in the run-up to the formal talks next week, Director-General of the IAEA Yukiya Amano expressed optimism about reaching agreement with regard to the pending issues on the Iran nuclear file. 
By the way, Obama has scheduled a meeting with israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Sept 30. The diplomatic traffic over the Iran nuclear issue is becoming dense. 

Posted in Diplomacy.

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One Response

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  1. tick says

    The primary issue most probably is not nuclear, it is recognition of Israel. President Obama has made clear his stance on pre-1967 boundaries subject to give and take negotiations. Iran concurring with this vision and re-recognizing Israel would win half the battle. Iran has so far paid a very heavy price for their ideological delusion.

    Such a diplomatic somersault is quite difficult for Iranian leadership. If it trends in such a direction, would be a game changer which can level the playing field vis-a-vis Israeli contention.

    Former President Ahmadinejad, who years ago, gave a really good interview at CNN with Mr. Wolf Blitzer, had politely sidestepped the recognition question, stating that it was for Palestinians to decide on it, but also implied that then Iran would follow suit.

    Until such threads of talk are picked up, it is unlikely that any purpose oriented dialogue can ever take place.

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