By Daniella Peled
July 17, 2008
A great scoop in the Guardian today about US diplomatic overtures to Iran. This kind of American engagement is good news.
Washington is to set up a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in three decades, and US undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns is to attend international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. Israel is concerned over these moves, fearing that it marks a fatal weakening of the US position – no negotiations before Iran stops uranium enrichment. The US in turn insists that Burns presence at the talks is on one-off gesture, a test to see whether the Iranians are really prepared to engage.
But this is a vastly symbolic move. For all the US caveats, it signals a reversal of a long-held strategy. And it can only strengthen an international coalition aimed at derailing Iranian ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. The whole “Axis of Evil” nonsense made for a great soundbite, but a flimsy foreign policy.