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Talking It Out
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Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran Is Working

By James Donahue

President Barack Obama was scoffed at by Republican leadership when he proposed open dialogue with America’s so-called “enemies” instead of threatening them with sanctions, bombs and bullets.

During his campaign and since taking office, Mr. Obama softened America’s “cowboy” and big-bully stance, as portrayed by the former Republican led Bush Administration, and held out a hand of fellowship to all world nations. He also is pressing for a global dismantling of nuclear arms. The simple shift in foreign policy has won Mr. Obama the coveted Nobel Peace Prize, much to the chagrin of the old right-wing conservative guard still hiding in the shadows on Capitol Hill.

While America has not changed its firm stance against nuclear arms for either Iran or North Korea, the Obama Administration has fulfilled its willingness to open dialogue with the leaders of both nations, and the results appear to have been rewarding.

It is rumored that Mr. Obama is even considering talks with the Taliban as a way of resolving the ugly conflict launched by the Bush Administration in Afghanistan.

Remember former President Bill Clinton’s surprising trip to North Korea to meet with that country’s dictator, Kim Jong Il and negotiate for the release of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee? Kim was reportedly so pleased that the United States would send someone as internationally important as Clinton to Pyongyang that he issued a special pardon.

The Iranian issue appeared to be as hard a nut for Obama to crack as any of the international issues.

The conflict in Iran following the June elections that gave President Mahamoud Ahmadinejad a second term stalled immediate attempts by the Obama Administration to open talks with Iranian leadership. But Iran agreed to send representation to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with six UN Security Council members that included Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany and the United States.

Prior to the talks, Iran sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency announcing the construction of a uranium enrichment facility hear Qom. The announcement caused a stir and the American television talking heads were quick to ostracize Iran for violating the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

The talks were said to have covered a wide realm of global issues including Iran’s nuclear development programs. Iran wisely sent its top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to be its representative at this meeting.

Afterwards Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told reporters that Iran resisted pressure about its nuclear program. But it has since been learned that Iran has agreed to allow IAEA inspectors to examine its Qom facility and meet again with world powers in Vienna on October 19.

It also was revealed that a preliminary agreement was reached in which Iran would allow Russia to help enrich uranium to use in its power plant and for other peaceful purposes like medical treatments. A Russian spokesman said details of this deal are to be worked out during the Vienna meeting.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said officials from the UN nuclear watchdog plus the US, France, Russia and Iran will meet Oct. 19 to discuss the enrichment of Iran’s uranium abroad. He said the agency has no proof that Tehran has an ongoing weapons program.

Iran has always maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful. The Iranian foreign ministry hailed the Geneva talks with six world powers as a “national success.”

Thus it appears that Mr. Obama was correct when he said open dialogue was the best way to deal with nations that are perceived as a potential threat to US national security. Just because people of another culture think differently and endorse a different faith and form of government does not mean they are an enemy.

Former President Bush may have been right to join other national leaders in questioning Iran’s intentions once it was learned that Tehran was working with Russia to build a nuclear power generating plant. And America has not forgotten the Iran hostage crisis during the Islamic revolution of 1979. But we believe Mr. Bush was wrong in refusing to accept invitations by President Ahmadinejad to open dialogue and to define the Iranian government as part of a world “axis of evil.”