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Feb 14, 2007

2003 Memo Says Iranian Leaders Backed Talks

2003 Memo Says Iranian Leaders Backed Talks (WaPo)

The Swiss ambassador to Iran informed U.S. officials in 2003 that an Iranian proposal for comprehensive talks with the United States had been reviewed and approved by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; then-President Mohammad Khatami; and then-Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, according to a copy of the cover letter to the Iranian document.

"I got the clear impression that there is a strong will of the regime to tackle the problem with the U.S. now and to try it with this initiative," Tim Guldimann, the ambassador, wrote in a cover letter that was faxed to the State Department on May 4, 2003. Guldimann attached a one-page Iranian document labeled "Roadmap" that listed U.S. and Iranian aims for potential negotiations, putting on the table such issues as an end to Iran's support for anti-Israeli militants, action against terrorist groups on Iranian soil and acceptance of Israel's right to exist.

The cover letter, which had not been previously disclosed, was provided by a source who felt its contents were mischaracterized by State Department officials. Switzerland serves as a diplomatic channel for communications between Tehran and Washington because the two countries broke off relations after the 1979 seizure of U.S. Embassy personnel.
Of course, this comes on the heels of another report out or Europe that they believe Iran can't be stopped from building a bomb if they want one.

What can we do now that is constructive? Holding out a North Korean model would be helpful; trying to take them up on the offer for comprehensive talks would be better. What can we do to avoid a conflict while meeting the concerns of both the US and Iran?

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