Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pen pals 3.0

Interesting points to ponder from Simon Tisdall of the Guardian (blog):
It is also true that Mr Ahmedinejad's meandering and rhetorical criticisms of American policy hardly represented an inducement to the Americans to talk. His tone invited a rebuff - and it was duly delivered by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, backed by President Bush.

But after 27 years of almost unbroken non-communication in any meaningful, official sense, the letter was first and foremost a symbolic gesture and should have been treated as such. It gained added importance because it came from an Islamist hardliner who has been outspoken in his criticism of Washington's policies.

Despite being short on substance, it reinforced the impression that Iran does not want a confrontation with the west and is tentatively looking for ways out of the current impasse.

Comments by senior Iranian officials, including Hassan Rowhani, the country's former top nuclear negotiator, further indicate that policy divisions within Iran's ruling circles persist. Mr Rowhani is a close confidant of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is notably less aggressive in his comments on relations with the west.

Washington's flat rejection of the letter could strengthen hardliners inside the government who oppose any negotiation.
Meanwhile. Reuters:
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A leading Iranian opposition politician said Tehran should scrap uranium enrichment to avoid dragging itself deeper into a nuclear crisis and should not rely on China or Russia to veto any U.N. action on the Islamic state.

Ebrahim Yazdi, head of the banned Freedom Movement, also said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in no position to sermonise George W. Bush in his letter to the U.S. president.

Yazdi told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that China and Russia, which both have energy interests in Iran, would not jeopardise their economic or other ties with the United States if Iran refused to back down from enriching uranium.

"If Iran insists on its stand, we are afraid that the Russians and the Chinese would give up the resistance to the United States and then there would be a consensus on how to treat Iran," he said.


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