Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Missing Another Opportunity

Once again, the US and Iran will be missing an opportunity for direct talks this week when Foreign Ministers gather in Egypt to discuss Iraq security. Both the US and Iran have decided for different reasons that one-on-one talks between US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will not happen, though the two are "likely to exchange pleasantries."

The US rationalized its decision based on consultations with EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana. According to the Washington Post:

"After talks with European officials, the Bush administration has decided that any dialogue with Iran would be more enduring and significant if conducted through representatives of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rather than the Foreign Ministry. In Iran's government, Khamenei holds a lifetime appointment and has veto power over any government action, while the Foreign Ministry reports to a president who faces election every four years."

In the EU negotiations with Iran, Ali Larijani is the principal Iranian negotiator and he reports directly to the Supreme Leader.

As far as the Iranian decision to not engage in direct talks with the US at the upcoming meeting, there has been much heated debate within Iran. The Iranians have concluded that the US is not serious enough for the give and take of substantive negotiations.

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