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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Some observers say that a softer approach toward Iran by the US would mirror its diplomatic efforts with North Korea, which have been less tense than the Iranian-American relationship. Much like North Korea, Iran's biggest incentive for possible nuclear disarmament is the prospect of a warmer relationship with the West, led by a better relationship with Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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A report in the Chicago Tribune suggests that Iran's desire for better diplomatic relations with the US explains why the policy of communicating through European go-betweens has been largely unsuccessful.
The current strategy of having the Europeans negotiate with Iran is widely seen as not having made progress, perhaps because one of the biggest incentives for Iran is the prospect of normalized relations with the United States.
"The U.S. realized that the old pattern of diplomatic negotiation, through the Europeans, was just not working," said Vali Nasr, an international politics professor at Tufts University. "Just like with North Korea, the only time things began working was when the US joined the talks. There was an acknowledgment that if you don't want war or the status quo, you have to try something new."
Gary Samore, the vice president of the Council for Foreign Relations, agrees that the decision to send Mr. Burns to the Switzerland talks represents a change in administration strategy, according to Reuters.
Another reason for sending Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and the third-ranking official in the State Department, was to ensure not too many concessions were made, particularly by players such as China and Russia that have shown more sympathy toward Tehran.
"He is there as the bad cop. There is nervousness that Solana and some of the other countries, such as China and Russia might be willing to settle for less than full suspension (of uranium enrichment)," said Gary Samore, vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
"The administration wants to be absolutely sure that it is a participant over the shape of this," he added.