Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
What’s the Latest Development?
According to reports, Iranian officials have not tried to talk with American counterparts directly. The opportunity presented itself on previous occasions, two in Istanbul (January 2011 and April 2012) and one in Baghdad (May 2012)—but Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili “was under direct instructions to avoid a bilateral meeting with his American counterpart.” Those instructions were viewed as a disastrous mistake, and many in Washington have reportedly turned a deaf ear to Iran. Now, only two U.S. Senior officials will “seriously consider” Iranian concerns. The only direct communication Iran and the U.S. had is back in 2009, Jalili and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns had a productive meeting. The U.S. interests are not only in Iran’s nuclear program, but rather a range of diplomatic issues. The opportunity has come around, yet again, but if Iran negotiators do not step up to make a discussion happen with Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman in Moscow—then The Obama Administration will “continue to doubt Tehran’s sincerity in negotiations,” and no one in Washington will listen to Iran.
What’s the Big Idea?
Iran must not continue to avoid direct talks with its American counterpart. The tension between America and Iran has already fueled talks of a possible war, and with the upcoming election decision makers need to take advantage of the opportunity to “do its part in untangling the mutual demonization driving the conflict.” A high-level Iran and American discussion can encourage the success of diplomacy. As Washington prepares for talks in Moscow, Sherman is all ears and ready to explore all options for potential agreement.