Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a public gathering in the city of Abhar on April 28. In a major policy shift, the U.S. now says it is prepared to engage in joint direct talks with Iran.
Sec. of State Rice said America would join Europe in direct talks if Iran suspends its programs to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel. It’s a dramatic about-face, and comes a mere three weeks after the Iranian president sent a personal letter to Bush—the first direct communication between the two countries in over 20 years.
The United States is willing to join European nations in direct talks with Iran if the Iranian government first agrees to suspend its programs to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, activities that Washington charges are part of plans to build nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, announcing the U.S. policy shift at a State Department news conference today, warned that if the Iranian government does not choose the path of negotiations and continues to pursue atomic weapons, “it will incur only great costs.”
But she stopped short of confirming that the United States has obtained agreement from Russia and China to impose United Nations sanctions if Iran does not comply. She said in response to questions after a prepared statement that negotiators are still “working on a package” that includes potential penalties for noncompliance, as well as benefits if Iran accepts the deal.