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Former Ambassador to Iran Briefs Hill on Engagement and Democracy Opportunities

By: Jayhon Ghassem-Zadeh, National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

Washington, DC - On Monday, NIAC hosted former Italian Ambassador to Iran Roberto Toscano for a Congressional briefing entitled, “Iran: New Opportunities for Engagement and Democracy?”

Roberto Toscano

Toscano, who is completing his term as a Woodrow Wilson Public Policy Scholar focusing on prospects for democratic change in Iran, discussed his recent LA Times op-ed published with five other former European ambassadors to Iran. The piece called for a new diplomatic initiative on Iran based around establishing transparency and safeguard measures regarding Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

At Monday’s briefing, Toscano assessed recent approaches to diplomacy with Iran and how a new approach could yield more favorable results. When diplomats fail, Toscano said, there is conflict. He said that engagement is necessary to prevent such conflict, and talking to Iran, while sustaining a focus on human rights, would benefit the Iranian people. Isolating states like Iran, Toscano argued, only enables nationalists in the ruling regime to expand their influence.

Appearing on Capitol Hill just days after John Bolton’s called for military strikes against Iran at a House committee hearing, Toscano warned that military strike would fail to solve the nuclear issue and make things worse for Iranian democrats. Military threats, he said, enable totalitarian regimes to shift domestic competition away from popular democratic aspirations to their preferred issues of security and deterrence.

The briefing, which was moderated by NIAC President Trita Parsi and attended by over 100 Congressional staffers, was part of NIAC’s US-Iran Policy Program supported by the Ploughshares Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

... Payvand News - 06/29/11 ... --

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