By Hossein Mohammadi, Rooz Online
As economic pressure on Iran mounts and the Barack Obama wins the presidential race in the US, some senior authorities in the Islamic republic of Iran are now pronouncing that talks with the United States are possible, if the interests of the regime so require.
Prior to November and during the US presidential campaign, unconfirmed reports surfaced that Ali Akbar Velayati and Hassan Taeb had travelled to the US with the purpose of striking a deal over Iran's nuclear program. But officials on both sides denied these reports.
Iran's former foreign minister Manoutchehr Mottaki joined the debate on the issue and recently said that the subject of relations with the United States is not a party or a factional issue but a national one in Iran. "Rebuilding relations between the two countries requires preparatory work. According to the remarks by the supreme leader in Shiraz, the absence of relations between the United States and Iran is not going to be forever, which indicates that relations [between the two] need to be examined. This can be accomplished by resolving some issues and one of the preparatory requirements is the presence of political will on both sides," he said. Mottaki further said that the necessary will for this did not exist in Washington as yet but added, "We must be careful so that a 'no dialog' situation is not imposed on us. The role of the diplomat under these conditions is not to compromise but to talk and present his positions through diplomatic language."
In a related report, Hossein Sheikh-ol-Islam, the director general of Majlis's international affairs office is quoted to have said, "We shall engage in talks with the US wherever such talks are beneficial to the regime." "The US does not have equal relations with any country and the current status between the US and Iran has nothing to do with the capture of the US embassy in Tehran," he added.
Such relatively conciliatory remarks regarding relations or talks between Iran and the US were made repeatedly last week by different officials and representatives in Iran. The head of the Human Rights Council in Iran's judiciary Javad Larijani is another official who said, "If the interests of the regime require, we shall have talks with the US even in Hell." "Talks with the US are not banned because of a taboo. Some reformists in the early days of the revolution who were super radicals viewed talks with the US as a taboo, but they were subsequently enlightened and now has turned them into super-alternatives," he continued.
The head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani also made similar public statements regarding relations with the US and said, "Relations with the US are not easy and they cannot be established overnight after all the American crimes against the Iranian people. The Americans should not believe that by coming to the negotiations table they can extract concessions from us."
Prior to these remarks, some Principlists (the ruling group in Iran) had said that some groups inside and outside Iran were trying to impose talks with the US to the supreme leader. Morteza Nabavi, the managing director of Resalat newspaper for example had said during the regularly monthly meeting of the Islamic Society of Engineers, "The fifth column of the enemy is striving to push the regime to compromise." He named some groups that were trying to open the path to talks with the US by calling the situation in Iran as extremely difficult. "If some inside the country want to present the notion that we must compromise on the nuclear issue so that sanctions against us are lifted, they say this because of their ignorance or out of treason," he said.
Ali Khatami, the representative of the supreme leader in the province of Zanjan also spoke on the issue and said, "Some authorities in the Islamic republic must remove the thought from their mind that Iran must "retreat" in response to pressure from the US. The state of the country is far more difficult than during the imposed (Iran/Iraq) war which is something that must be considered and also that we cannot turn away from our goals."
At the same time, the joint command of Iran's armed forces issued a statement in which it said "talks of establishing relations" with the US were "suspicious" and called for a serious and unqualified response to this. The statement said that only "the position and directives" of the supreme leader were the determinants of relations with the US. "America remained the great Satan and number one enemy of the Islamic revolution and Islamic republic," the statement read.
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