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Dennis Ross tasked to engage Iran

Report by Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appointed Dennis Ross, a veteran diplomat, as her special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, with responsibility to develop a strategy to engage Iran. State Department officials said the title is a euphemism for Iran.

Iran and the U.S. have been at loggerheads for three decades, since the Islamic Revolution. The most recent conflict between Tehran and Washington is over Iran's nuclear program which is closely monitored by the UN nuclear watchdog.

The new U.S. President Barack Obama has said his administration is seeking direct talks with Iran.

"My expectation is in the coming months we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table, face to face, diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in a new direction," Obama said in his first news conference as president.

Ross "will provide to the secretary and senior State Department officials strategic advice and perspective on the region" and "coordinate with senior officials in the development and formulation of new policy approaches," State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

Ross was the top Middle East envoy in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Ross's efforts may remain hidden for some time, the Post reported.

In an article titled "Diplomatic Strategies for Dealing With Iran," published in September by the Center for a New American Security, Ross recommended that the initial approach to Iran take place through a "direct, secret back channel."

Ross wrote that "keeping it completely private would protect each side from premature exposure and would not require either side to publicly explain such a move before it was ready. It would strike the Iranians as more significant and dramatic."

... Payvand News - 02/24/09 ... --

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