U.S. Rules out Expanding Diplomatic Contacts with Iran
Bary Schweid, The Associated Press:
The Bush administration, searching for ways to induce Iran to resume negotiations to end its nuclear programs, is exploring a wide range of options. But one that is being ruled out is to expand diplomatic contacts with Iran, which have been extremely limited since its fundamentalist revolution in 1979. A briefing paper circulated within the State Department suggests direct diplomatic contact with Iran to try to reopen negotiations with the European Union. But Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, flatly ruled that out Thursday as an option.
``Secretary of State (Condoleezza) Rice is not contemplating any such change in U.S. policy,'' McCormack said. READ MORE
The White House last month warned Iran of the prospect that the issue could be brought before the U.N. Security Council where Iran would run the risk of censure or economic sanctions, if the United States and its allies achieved a majority and averted a veto by Russia or China.
On another front, the administration considers Iran to be the most avid supporter of terrorism in the world. In Iraq, however, where infiltration of militant fighters is a tough obstacle to postwar reconstruction, Syria is considered a far more active channel.
Still, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday that new explosive devices used against coalition forces in Iraq ``lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah.''
While stressing that ``we cannot be sure'' about Iran's possible role, the British leader linked the issue to the diplomatic confrontation between Tehran and Western nations over Iran's nuclear program.
Responding, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said ``certainly that would be of concern to us.''
``I think you have heard us talk about how it's important for Iran to have a good, constructive relationship with their neighbors, including Iraq,'' McClellan said.