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Former American policy maker: Iran-US interests 'partially congruent'

London, Dec 10, IRNA - A former US foreign policy official says there are many fruitful areas of engagement between Iran and the United States which enjoy interests that are 'partially congruent'.

"They (US and Iran) both seek an end to drug trafficking in Afghanistan and both want stability in Iraq. Hopefully then Iran's nuclear issue could also be a matter of engagement and negotiation," said Mark Fitzpatrick in an interview with IRNA.

The former deputy assistant secretary for non-proliferation said US President-elect Barack Obama is likely to authorize administration to be having some 'informal engagement' with Iran as he made it clear that he is willing to talk with both adversaries and friends.

Referring to the recent letter by the US Congressmen to Iranian counterparts on the start of bilateral negotiations, Fitzpatrick said he hopes there could be such a meeting in the near future.

"Many members of the US Congress have been seeking for years to have some engagement with the Majlis. They have been willing to visit Tehran but it was never allowed," he said.

"Iranians are actually willing to negotiate and show some flexibility in the nuclear case."

Fitzpatrick, a senior analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, further called for more engagement by the Iranian side in resolving its nuclear issue.

"E3+3 put an offer to Iran to continue negotiations in June. Iran initially appeared to be welcoming this but when William Burns joined the others in a meeting in Geneva, Iran refused to continue talks." Asked about Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and continued IAEA inspections from the country's nuclear facilities, Fitzpatrick claimed "there are various aspects of the program that appear to have a nuclear weapon connection".

He, however, clarified that the international atomic watchdog has never judged Iran is after nuclear weapons.

"I agree that the IAEA is the best source of independent and neutral assessment of information about Iran's nuclear program and that the IAEA has not said Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon," he said.

On Monday, Fitzpatrick attended a press conference in London to introduce his latest report entitled 'The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: Avoiding Worst-Case Outcomes'.

He urged Western governments to change their strategy in dealing with Iran over its nuclear program or face the worst-case outcomes.

Asked by IRNA about the worst-case outcomes, Fitzpatrick said if the current trend continues, the worst-case outcome is that "Iran produces nuclear weapons".

"Another worst-case outcome is that a war will start over this program. Another worst-case outcome is that even though there is a war, Iran still emerges having nuclear weapons," he said.

"I hope we can avoid these worst-case outcomes."

He said that a dual policy of engagement and sanctions, testing possibilities for Iranian cooperation while adopting targeted containment strategies, is the best way to deal with Iran's nuclear program.

... Payvand News - 12/10/08 ... --

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