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US must reach security agreement with Iran, says former Amerian official

London, March 17, IRNA -- One of the White House's primary goals in its efforts to enhance US national security must be a security-based agreement with Iran, says former US State Department official, Clifford Kupchan.

"After 25 years of mutual suspicion, the path to such an accommodation will be lengthy and demand distasteful concessions on both sides. But now is the time to lay out a road map," he said, suggesting that it could take up to two years.

Kupchan, who is vice-president of the Nixon Center in Washington, visited Tehran last month and set out specific action each side should take in an article for the Financial Times Wednesday.

"The US, for its part, should offer to guarantee Iran security by renouncing at the top level any intention to force regime change," he said.

"Washington should acknowledge that the Islamic Republic is a regional power with legitimate security interests and that it deserves a voice in regional security matters," the former official further advised.

In particular, he said that the US should increasingly engage Iran in discussions about a future security structure for the Persian Gulf. If there is a thaw in security relation, Kupchan also proposed that the US should begin easing economic sanctions. "Mutually beneficial US investment in Iran's energy sector is the eventual goal," he said.

For Iran's part, he suggested Iran must abandon all nuclear weapons ambitions, including enriching uranium, hand over all al- Qaeda members it is holding and cease military support for such groups as Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the occupied territories. The former State Department official also believed there was an opportunity for cooperation in Iraq with Tehran's goals being 'compatible with Washington's'.

In this, he recommended that the Bush administration should consider inviting Iranians to testify at the war crimes trial of Saddam Hussein.

"Given the threat Iranian policies pose to US national security, the US must give this security accommodation a shot," Kupchan argued, adding that patience and a readiness to accept setbacks will be necessary.

"But if Washington succeeds, US security will be fundamentally enhanced," he advised.

... Payvand News - 3/17/04 ... --

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