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In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran's Offer of Dialogue; Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Invasions; Documents; International relations-US -- Iran
Author: Glenn Kessler - Washington Post Staff Writer
Date: Jun 18, 2006
Start Page: A.16
Section: A SECTION

The document lists a series of Iranian aims for the talks, such as ending sanctions, full access to peaceful nuclear technology and a recognition of its "legitimate security interests." Iran agreed to put a series of U.S. aims on the agenda, including full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, "decisive action" against terrorists, coordination in Iraq, ending "material support" for Palestinian militias and accepting the Saudi initiative for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The document also laid out an agenda for negotiations, with possible steps to be achieved at a first meeting and the development of negotiating road maps on disarmament, terrorism and economic cooperation.

Paul R. Pillar, former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, said that it is true "there is less daylight between the United States and Europe, thanks in part to [Condoleezza Rice]'s energetic diplomacy." But he said that only partially offsets the fact that the U.S. position is "inherently weaker now" because of Iraq. He described the Iranian approach as part of a series of efforts by Iran to engage with the [Bush] administration. "I think there have been a lot of lost opportunities," he said, citing as one example a failure to build on the useful cooperation Iran provided in Afghanistan.

[Trita Parsi] said that based on his conversations with the Iranian officials, he believes the failure of the United States to even respond to the offer had an impact on the government. Parsi, who is writing a book on Iran-Israeli relations, said he believes the Iranians were ready to dramatically soften their stance on Israel, essentially taking the position of other Islamic countries such as Malaysia. Instead, Iranian officials decided that the United States cared not about Iranian policies but about Iranian power.

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