Tags: democrats | iran | direct | talks

Democrats Promote Direct Talks With Iran

Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013 11:21 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Some House Democrats have introduced a bill that would establish a diplomatic envoy in Tehran and mandate direct talks between Washington and Iran over its nuclear development plans.

California Rep. Barbara Lee, the legislation’s chief sponsor, said the measure is aimed at reversing the administration's official “no contact” policy with Tehran, reports The Hill newspaper.

“The darkening clouds surrounding Iran’s nuclear program are troubling,” she said last week. “We must use all diplomatic tools available, including engaging in direct bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. To do that, we must lift the ‘no contact’ policy and begin negotiations.”

According to Lee’s summary of the bill, the new envoy would be instructed to pursue “direct, sustained, bilateral, and multilateral negotiations with the government of Iran in order to prevent war and support human rights.”

The legislation has 10 Democratic co-sponsors, but it’s unlikely it has enough support to win approval from the House, given the move toward imposing tighter sanctions on Iran.

Both parties in recent years have supported tougher sanctions. Last week, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the Iran Sanctions Act approved by Congress gives President Barack Obama several options for pressuring Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

He did not specify what actions he believes the United States should take, but said he agrees with Obama that all options should be considered, a phrase the president used in last week’s State of the Union address and that many see as a potential nod to military action.

Boehner made his comments on sanctions after Iranian leaders said they might soon halt shipments of oil to European nations and declared that it has made progress in developing nuclear fuel. Iran, however, still denies that it is trying to build nuclear weapons.

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