Finally, they talk

THE Bush administration’s decision to finally meet Iran across the negotiating table will deliver the international community an important lesson in whether ‘it’s never too late’ also holds true in war-time international politics. Apparently, compulsions of the Iraq fallout have made Washington go back on practically all conditions it had set for a diplomatic engagement with Teheran — halt the nuclear programme, cease Iraq-specific interference, etc. Both sides have dubbed the talks ‘positive’, which indicates more rounds may be in the offing. But that would depend as much on how the interaction is seen on both sides in the coming days as the initial feeling taken back by the respective ambassadors.

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Tue 29 May 2007, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:29 AM

For the Iranians, the US decision to finally come round to talking, after a lot of tough-talk, is clearly seen as a strategic victory, as was evident from President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad’s address shortly before the negotiations began. Just like the US hostage drama following the Ayatollah revolution that embarrassed the Carter administration out of the White House and cut diplomatic ties 30 years ago, Teheran sees Washington’s reaction to present regional compulsions as strategic advantages. For, not once in the last couple of years has Iran budged from its official lines about the uranium enrichment or regional meddling, whereas its opponents have regrouped time and again with little success.

That neither side mentioned the nuclear standoff is reflective of the will to utilise the present momentum to hammer out some sort of solution(s) to the Iraq mess. Indeed, the most constructive outcome of the first round has been explicit understanding that stability in Iraq is the number one demand on both sides. And while both denied each other’s usual accusations about who’s helping who in person just as they do from afar, the process must continue for both sides to have a clearer understanding of just why some internal forces are being pushed beyond the limit by external players.

In addition to seeking troop reduction, the talk with Iran forms the bulk of Bush’s newest strategy, a newfound appreciation for the Baker-Hamilton report. Whether it succeeds remains to be seen, but the ultimate resort to debate rather than more muscle must have taught the Americans, and the wider world, that sobering words sometimes speak louder than hateful actions. Bush could and should have chosen talks earlier, without wasting so many more lives.

More news from