Rice Offers Conciliatory Message to Iran

A011290230.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday held out the prospect of a better relationship with Iran, a day after her country brokered a draft UN resolution against Tehran.

The US Secretary of State used an appearance at the World Economic Forum to offer the prospect of a “more normal” relationship between the two countries should Iran give up its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) right of uranium enrichment, Financial Times reported.

Rice went on to say she would meet her Iranian opposite number “any place, any time, anywhere to talk about anything”. Critics asked why the US would not engage Iran’s government diplomatically, she said, but “why won’t Tehran talk to us?”

There have been diplomatic contacts between Tehran and Washington over the past 10 months to discuss the situation in Iraq and Rice has previously held out the prospect of improved relations. Her address on Wednesday said any improved relationship could include “growing cooperation, expanding trade and exchange, and the peaceful management of differences”.

The US had no desire for a permanent enemy in Iran, she said. “We believe we can resolve this problem through diplomacy.”

Earlier on Wednesday Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responding to the new draft resolution said that the country would press ahead with its nuclear program. “The Iranian nation has chosen its path and will continue with it,” Ahmadinejad said.

Rice’s comments came in a speech which emphasized ideals and optimism, but contained a stark assessment of the war in Afghanistan and wary language about Russia.

“NATO is not performing perfectly [in Afghanistan]. Neither is America,” she said. “Our publics need to be told honestly that we are engaged in a real war in Afghanistan [and] that there will be sacrifices.”

Her speech followed an address by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, in which he warned that a “rapidly spreading” conflict was engulfing the region.

“Our strategies in this war have often been short-changed by a host of deceptive rhetoric or due to lingering misconceptions about the nature of the enemy.”

Rice dismissed talk of a new Cold War with Russia as “nonsense”, but added, “We are determined to remember this, even when we hear unwise and irresponsible rhetoric from Russia that harkens back to an earlier time.”

She highlighted concerns about Moscow’s growing influence over rising energy prices, saying, “We also think Russia should contribute to a transparent and open global energy economy, not a monopolistic one.”

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