UNITED NATIONS – The United States is set to launch direct talks with Iran without any apparent preconditions, according to President Barack Obama’s new United Nations ambassador.
The offer of direct contacts is a break with the Bush White House, which insisted that Tehran first comply with UN resolutions before any direct meetings take place. The Bush administration had been pushing last year for a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
The Obama administration apparently is setting no preconditions for its talks, which will be made in conjunction with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany -- often referred to as the "P5+1.” They had put discussions on next steps with Iran on hold until the Obama team was in office.
"We remain deeply concerned about the threat Iran's nuclear program poses to the region and indeed to the United States and the entire international community...We look forward towards engaging in vigorous diplomacy, that includes direct diplomacy with Iran as well as collaboration and partnership with the Permanent 5 plus 1," U.S. ambassador Susan Rice told reporters Monday.
Iran not only continues its uranium enrichment, but is on the verge of activating one of the world's largest nuclear power stations near the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr. The United States, European Union and other Western powers suspect Tehran is amassing the capability to produce nuclear weapons under the cover of generating power.
Rice did refer to the U.N.’s sanctions against Iran, but she offered few details on what direct talks would accomplish if the country’s Islamic fundamentalist regime still refuses to yield.
"Dialogue and diplomacy must go hand-in-hand with a very firm message from the United States and the international community that Iran needs to meet its obligations as defined by the (UN) Security Council and its continued refusal to do so will only cause pressure to increase," Rice said.
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