U.S. Gives Iran Talks '6 Months'

Arab paper says Obama administration is letting EU’s Javier Solana handle nuke talks with Iran, says ‘Yitzhar for Bushehr’ is an Israeli idea.

Gil Ronen ,

Obama and Ahmadinejad
Obama and Ahmadinejad
Israel News Photo: (composite / Flash 90)

Ash-Sharq il-Awsat, a major pan-Arabic daily newspaper, quotes a source in the U.S. as saying that “Washington wants around six months to give dialogue with Iran enough of a chance.”

In an article by Tariq Alhomayed, the paper’s editor-in-chief, the source said that a few days ago, Washington completed a review of management policies on dealing with Iran. The decision was that Washington would negotiate with Tehran on issues other than nuclear weapons, “such as Iraq and Afghanistan,” while the nuclear issues will remain in the hands of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

In addition, the U.S. will sit in on the “P5 plus 1” meetings with Iran (“P5 plus 1” refers to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and the “plus 1” is Germany).

The source told Alhomayed, “Attending does not mean interfering or changing the rules of the game,” and said that the U.S. is viewing with "cautious anticipation” an upcoming meeting between Solana and Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator.

The Financial Times reported last week that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Arab officials that on her trip to the Middle East in March, that she was “doubtful” if Iran would respond positively to the U.S.’s initiative for dialogue.

Regarding the so-called “Bushehr for Yitzhar” formula floated in a report by an Israeli newspaper, the source told Asharq il-Awsat that the idea is an Israeli one. “There is no discussion taking place in Washington right now on stopping the settlements in return for stopping Iran but that is what Israel wants and this is what is being reported in the Israeli media,” the source said.