Wednesday, April 19, 2006

M.J. Larijani to Lead Talks With US?

Asma Hosseini, Rooz Online:
While the government in Iran beats the war drum and promises the destruction of the United States to the public, a news agency belonging to right-wing politicians in Iran has reported that Mohammad Javad Larijani has been nominated to lead Iran’s talks with the US. According to Farda news agency, M.J.Larijani who is the brother of the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who has been leading the nuclear talks between Iran and the international community (Europeans and the IAEA) since president Ahmadinejad’s hardline government took office last June, has been tipped as the person to lead Iran’s talks with the US regarding Iraq. In the past other names had been mentioned and they included Vaeedi and Hosseini-Tash. M.J.Larijani was a member of Iran’s recent delegations to China and has remained close to the foreign policy apparatus of the Islamic regime for years. There are signs that president Ahmadinejad favors Larijani for this position and that he was the special presidential envoy on the China trip is support for the president’s choice. READ MORE

Talks between Iran and the US over Iraq were initially scheduled to begin on April 7th but were postponed without being rescheduled. The postponement has been said to contribute to the current tension between the two governments.

The announcement of Larijani’s name at a time when the two countries are engaged in a verbal war against each other, also comes at a time when there is a difference of opinion among Iranian leaders on how to deal with the US and the pressures of the international community over the country’s nuclear programs. Right-wing neocons who ascended to power in Iran last June have increased their attacks on former president Mohammad Khatami who pursued a more moderate foreign policy aimed at diffusing regional and international tensions. With the desire of the hardliners to hold talks with the US, it is now widely believed that the hardliners were never against talks with the US per se, and what they really were against was that moderates reach a rapprochement with the US and thus steal the show from them.

Naming Larijani to be the qualified candidate to head Iran’s team in talks with the US is just another event in the direction of the desire of the hardliners to make a historic deal with the US since the two countries have not had real direct talks over bilateral issues. It should be noted that Larijani has four other brothers all of whom have been among influential insiders in the Islamic regime since its founding in 1979. They have held or continue to hold important powerful posts in different official agencies such as the National Security Council or the Guardians Council. Mohammad Javad Larijani is currently the deputy of the judiciary branch of government for international affairs. Previously during Khatami’s administration he was tipped to have held secret talks with the British, while remaining in the background for most of the years since. He is also considered to be the architect of “looking to the East”, which means Russia, at the time when the Europeans were increasing their demands on Iran over the nuclear enrichment issue. Then, he even talked of ignoring the Europeans altogether and holding direct talks with the US, something that others could not have expressed even in private circles. Nine years during the presidential elections that brought Mohammad Khatami to power, Larijani was announced to be the foreign minister candidate for Nategh Nouri’s presidency. He has repeatedly talked of the necessity of having direct talks with the US to resolve Iran’s international problems. He has said that the US and Iran have many common interests and goals and that even though the US may be an enemy, “we could still have talks with them over our common interests”.