U.S. shifts tack on Iran with decision to send envoy to nuclear talks
The US also hopes to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years, according to the Guardian newspaper.
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While the American media were focused on the new US role in this weekend's nuclear negotiations, the Guardian broke the news that the US intends to announce next month the opening of an American interests section in Tehran. It will be the first US diplomatic post in Iran since the two countries cut ties after the 1979 hostage crisis.Skip to next paragraph
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The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President George Bush.
The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section – a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.
The news of the shift by Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to Iran throughout his tenure comes at a critical time in US-Iranian relations. After weeks that have seen tensions rise with Israel conducting war games and Tehran carrying out long-range missile tests, a thaw appears to be under way.
The surprising twin changes in US policy came a week after Iranian missile tests near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf sent world oil prices skyrocketing to 1$47 a barrel. After the decision to send a US diplomat to the talks was announced, oil prices dropped by $4.14, reports Agence France-Presse.
"This is the most significant US diplomatic contact since the 1979 Islamic revolution, and represents a dramatic shift in US foreign policy. For our purposes, it will certainly take some of the force out of a major source of the geopolitical premium in oil prices," said John Kilduff, an analyst at MF Global.
The price reduction built on a decline of $6.44 the day before, spurred by an unexpected growth in US oil reserves.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters from the country's state media that the government has yet to receive an official request from the US to open an interests section, but added that he welcomed American diplomats to Iran, according to the Tehran Times.
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad declared on Sunday that he welcomes a U.S. proposal to set up a diplomatic outpost in Iran and to establish extensive relations between Iranian and U.S. citizens.
The Islamic Republic of Iran sees no limit to the establishment of relations with the world's nations, even with the people of the United States, Ahmadinejad told reporters after Sunday's cabinet session.
"Iran welcomes any proposal for improving ties even from the White House leaders," the president asserted...
Asked about the report about opening a mission in Iran, the president said, "We have not yet received any official request in this regard."
"But Iran had previously proposed starting direct flights between the two countries so that hundreds of thousands of passengers including students, academics, and business travelers can directly fly to the two states," he added.