US Aim To Restore Dialogue With Iran


08.06.2009 11:21 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The State Department said Tuesday U.S. ambassadors
abroad have been authorized to invite Iranian diplomats to embassy
events celebrating the July 4 U.S. Independence Day holiday. The
overture is a break from nearly 30 years of U.S. diplomatic practice.

Officials here depict the gesture as another step in an effort by
the Obama administration to restore dialogue with Iran, with which
the United States has not had formal diplomatic relations since the
country’s Islamic revolution in 1979. State Department Spokesman
Robert Wood, confirming a report by the New York Times, said the
State Department late last week cabled U.S. chiefs of mission around
the world authorizing them to invite Iranian diplomats and other
officials to traditional July 4 embassy receptions. Wood said the move
is in keeping with the new administration’s stated commitment to seek
direct contact with Iran, including taking a seat at the table with
other major powers in talks with the Tehran government on its nuclear
program: "Our policy is to try to reach out to the Iranian government
and people. The President and the Secretary [of State] have made very
clear that this is what we want to do," he said. "And certainly there
are going to be other opportunities to reach out to Iran. We again
still wait for Iran to reach back. And what I’m specially referring
to is Iran informing us of whether they’re going to respond positively
to Javier Solana’s invitation to attend the next P5+1 meeting."

The P5+1-the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and
Germany-have offered Iran incentives to suspend uranium enrichment
and return to negotiations over its nuclear program, which U.S. and
European officials believe is at least partly weapons-related.

The Bush administration had refused to take a direct role in the
talks unless Iran, which denies nuclear weapons ambitions, first
halted enrichment. The new administration has said it is prepared to
be a full participant. Iranians had not been invited to U.S. embassy
events since the American mission in Tehran was seized by protestors
in 1979 and some 50 U.S. officials held hostage for more than a
year. U.S. diplomats have over the years been allowed to interact
with Iranian counterparts in social situations, though spokesman Wood
said a long-standing policy barring substantive discussions on such
occasions remains in effect despite the State Department’s July 4
overture, VOA News reported.