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US Denies Conciliatory Iran Letter Planned

U.S. must change Iran policy
Omid Memarian, SF Chronicle

President Obama has promised to restore the United States' moral authority in the world. In order to do so, the new administration should revise U.S. foreign policy that has proved a political failure and undermined respect for international human rights.

Is Gates Undermining Another Opening to Iran?
by Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON - When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of "subversive activity" in Latin America Tuesday, it raised the question whether he is trying to discourage President Barack Obama from abandoning the hard line policy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran he has favored for nearly three decades.

An Iranian conundrum

IF COUNTRIES like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, Barack Obama said this week on Arabic television, they will find an "extended hand" from America. You might expect Europe to react with a fresh outburst of Obamamania. After all, Europeans like to talk. The European Union, represented by its diplomatic big beasts-Britain, France and Germany-has spent years, together with Russia and China, talking to Iran, in a bid to curb its nuclear ambitions with a set of sticks and carrots.

The U.S. State Department has denied a British newspaper report that the Obama administration is drafting a "conciliatory" letter to Iran.

White House and State Department spokesmen said Thursday nobody from the administration has asked anyone at either place to prepare such a letter. The State Department spokesman added he could not rule out the possibility that someone at State had taken the initiative to write one.

The Guardian newspaper said it learned that the U.S. State Department was working on a letter aimed at unfreezing U.S.-Iranian relations. The paper said it was a response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter of congratulations to Mr. Obama on his election.

President Obama has said he is reviewing Mr. Ahmadinejad's letter and will respond appropriately.

In an interview earlier this week with the al-Arabiya television network, Mr. Obama said warmer relations with the Islamic nation are possible.

In the interview, President Obama repeated his inaugural address pledge to extend a hand to countries such as Iran if they are "willing to unclench their fist."

Mr. Obama promised to lay out a general framework and approach over the next several months on how the U.S. will proceed with Iran.

Thursday, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country believes that if Mr. Obama changes U.S. policy in the Middle East, the U.S. president will find a more "cooperative" region.

On Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad called on the Obama administration to make fundamental changes to U.S. foreign policies. He said Washington must apologize for what he called 60 years of crimes against the Iranian people and withdraw its troops from around the world.

The U.S. has a strong military presence on both sides of Iran, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have urged Iran to end its controversial uranium enrichment program and what they call the country's activities supporting terror in the Middle East.

Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, ruled out a general dialogue with Tehran due to Iran's defiance of international demands that it stop controversial parts of its nuclear program.

Washington and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program - a charge Tehran denies.

New White House WMD Czar Wants Immediate Talks with Iran, to 'Manage' North Korea Until it Collapses
ABC News

"The discussion today is on the Greater Middle East," Council on Foreign Relations official Gary Samore (suh-MORE-ay) said last week, "and I've always wondered what's so great about it."

The crowd laughed.

"It seems to me it's a part of the world where most of the fanaticism and violence and conflict and tension somehow seems to have become concentrated. So the president doesn't have so much of an inbox as he has a Pandora's Box to deal with."

Samore's view: The Obama administration should meet as soon as possible with a representative of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to see if they can begin a dialogue.

And that Pandora's Box is now Samore's to deal with as well.

... Payvand News - 01/30/09 ... --

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