Bush wants to negotiate with Iran.

It’s somewhat unexpected but nevertheless very welcome news, if it’s true, that President George Bush is determined to negotiate with the Iranians about the limits he wishes to place on Iran’s nuclear programme. In a one-on-one interview he gave to The Washington Post’s David Ignatius he appears to have gone to great lengths to emphasise his willingness to reach a negotiated settlement. 

“I would say to the Iranian people: We respect your history. We respect your culture. We admire the entrepreneurial skills of your people. I would say to the Iranian people that I recognize the importance of your sovereignty — that you’re a proud nation, and you want to have a positive future for your citizens”… 

He went on to say: 

“In terms of the nuclear issue, I understand that you believe it is in your interest — your sovereign interest, and your sovereign right — to have nuclear power. I understand that. But I would also say to the Iranian people, there are deep concerns about the intentions of some in your government who would use knowledge gained from a civilian nuclear power industry to develop a weapon that can then fulfill the stated objectives of some of the leadership [to attack Israel and threaten the United States]. And I would say to the Iranian people that I would want to work for a solution to meeting your rightful desires to have civilian nuclear power.” 

During the interview Bush stressed that it was his belief that Iran could have civilian nuclear power programme and suspend permanently the contentious uranium enrichment programme, a programme that Bush believes will lead to Iran’s having nuclear weapons which it could turn on Israel and the US. This could be don by Iran’s allowing the West to provide it with all the enriched uranium it needs for its civilian programme. 

Of his meeting with Bush, Ignatius says: 

I came away with a sense that Bush is serious about finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis, and that he is looking hard for ways to make connections between America and Iran. 

Let us hope Ignatius is right.

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