TEHRAN, July 23 (MNA) – Recently some Western media reported that the U.S. is mulling a proposal on setting up a diplomatic outpost in Tehran.

London’s Guardian newspaper said on July 17 that the United States will announce in the next month plans to establish a diplomatic office in Iran for the first time in 30 years.


The administration of President George W. Bush plans to establish an interests section staffed with diplomats similar to its outpost in Cuba, the newspaper said without identifying any sources.


Iran and the United States severed relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Currently the Swiss embassy in Tehran looks after U.S. interests in the absence of an American mission.


The U.S. and Iran have also been at loggerheads over Tehran’s nuclear program.


Washington accuses Iran of seeking to produce atomic weapons while Iran insists that its nuclear activities are purely directed at generating electricity for a growing population.


Iranian top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili held talks in Geneva on Saturday with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana over ending Iran’s long-running nuclear standoff with the West.


U.S. senior diplomat William Burns for the first time attended the talks which marked the first high-ranking meeting between the two arch-foes after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.


Also present were representatives from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.


Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany last month offered Iran an updated package of incentives in return for a halt in Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.


The package, which is a follow-up of an original proposal in 2006, offers nuclear cooperation and wider trade in aircraft, energy, high technology, and agriculture.


The Islamic Republic has also offered its own package of proposals on addressing international challenges including the threat of nuclear proliferation.


Iran has repeatedly ruled out suspending uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks with the major powers and has said it will hold talks “only on common points”.


The Mehr News Agency on Wednesday sought the views of former U.S. assistant secretary of state James Dobbins over the proposal on opening a U.S. diplomatic mission in Tehran as well as the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.


The following is the text of the interview:


Q: What is your opinion about the United States establishing a diplomatic outpost in Iran?


A: The Bush Administration is reportedly considering offering to open a U.S. interests section in the Swiss Embassy. This would certainly represent a significant gesture if made, and an important step forward if accepted.


Q: Considering the fact that the collapse of Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq was to the benefit of both Iran and the U.S., do you agree that the two could develop further cooperation in improving Iraq’s condition?


A: The U.S. and Iran should be able to collaborate regarding Iraq, given that their interests are broadly compatible, that is in a unified, democratic, and peaceful Iraq capable of securing its territory and people without outside help. It is regrettable that they have not yet been able to do so.


Q: What has blocked direct talks between Washington and Tehran?


A: Mutual hostility and suspicion derived from half a century of grievances.


Q: What was the significance of U.S. top diplomat William Burns’ participation in the recent nuclear talks between Iran and the European Union?


A: To underscore that the U.S. stands behind the most recent offer on Iran’s nuclear program and to illustrate that it is ready to initiate a dialogue on this and perhaps other issues.


Q: Do you agree that the Bush administration’s policy has lowered the U.S. international standing and that his successor should learn from Bush failure in the Middle East?


A: The next U.S. President is likely to enjoy something of a honeymoon period regarding the world pubic opinion. How long it lasts will depend on the choices he makes.


James Dobbins directs the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation and served as Assistant Secretary of State under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.


He was the Clinton administration’s special envoy to Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Somalia and the Bush administration’s first envoy to Afghanistan.






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