Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Missed Opportunity

By Creature

New information has surfaced today about the 2003 attempt by the Iranians and the Swiss to cut a deal with the Bush administration. A deal that included "an end to Iran's support for anti-Israeli militants, action against terrorist groups on Iranian soil and acceptance of Israel's right to exist." A deal that was rejected by the White House (read Cheney) when hubris was the name of the game. The new information comes in the form of a previously undisclosed cover letter which "was provided by a source who felt its contents were mischaracterized by State Department officials."

"I got the clear impression that there is a strong will of the regime to tackle the problem with the U.S. now and to try it with this initiative," Tim Guldimann, the [Swiss] ambassador, wrote in a cover letter that was faxed to the State Department on May 4, 2003. [...]

Guldimann wrote that he had several long discussions with Sadegh Kharrazi, Iran's ambassador to France -- and also nephew to the foreign minister and brother-in-law to Khamenei's son. According to Guldimann, Sadegh Kharrazi reported going "through every word of this paper" with Khamenei, Khatami and the foreign minister. "The question is dealt with in high secrecy. Therefore no one else has been informed," Kharrazi added.

The supreme leader had reservations on some points but agreed with 85 to 90 percent of the road map, and "everything can be negotiated," Kharrazi said, noting any reservations could be discussed at the first bilateral meeting. Kharrazi added: "There is a clear interest to tackle the problem of our relations with the U.S. I told them, this is a golden opportunity." Guldimann noted that the "lack of trust in the U.S. imposes them to proceed very carefully and very confidentially."

If the administration does launch any kind of preemptive war against Iran this rejected attempt at a negotiated settlement will go down as one of the biggest blunders in the history of American foreign policy (even bigger than Iraq because the blowback from a war with Iran will have far greater and graver consequences) and proves, once and for all, that Cheney's Middle East wars are about oil and nothing more.

The Washington Post has the scoop. Steve Clemons has more.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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