There is a subtle, self-induced initiative or maneuverings between the United States and Iran as the U.S. has repeatedly shown Iran favor in recent days or weeks.
US Vice-President Joseph R. (Joe) Biden said on January 7 at the 45th annual Munich Security Conference that the new US government is "willing to talk to Iran” as long as it "abandons the illicit nuclear program and support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives.”
Afterwards, President Barack Obama said at the first evening press conference of his presidency that "the national security team is currently reviewing the existing Iran policy” and that his administration is "looking for openings” to start face-to-face talks with Iran.
Iran also made a cautious but positive response. Ali Larijani, Parliament Speaker and an influential conservative and Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator, was sent to participate in the Munich Security Conference. Although he did not directly contact Biden at the sideline of the conference, Speaker Ali Larijani said on Feb. 9 that only "the strategy change of the U.S. would facilitate the direct talks with Iran.”
The following day, or Feb. 10, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an address that he would be prepared for a talk and even cited possible areas for talks. He announced Iran's readiness "to hold talks” with the United States. "The Iranian nation is ready to hold talks but talks in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect… it is quite clear that real changes must be fundamental and not tactical,” he said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also acknowledged on the same day that "the U.S. and Iran have a chance of "working out a way of talking” that could lead to understanding on a range of issues. She expressed the hope for a better understanding of each other and that they will be able to find a "channel of dialogue” that would yield positive results for the Iranian people.
The above information implies that the U.S. and Iran have drastically "lowered the pitch” of confrontation or accusations against each other but still with a reserved attitude concerning the aspirations for the improvement of bilateral ties.
President Obama has repeatedly stated that he is willing to open talks with Iran, since he clearly knows that diplomatic and economic pressures that had been imposed previously upon Tehran and the stance for refusal to talks could only produce little effect, while his present overall diplomatic goal is definitely to resume the U.S. global leading status. Hence, he is willing to negotiate with countries, friend and foe alike, in an endeavor to restore the U.S.' impaired mortal image and external relations by means of negotiations or consultations.
Of course, Iran wants no more isolation and sanctions it has been subjected to. Moreover, the Iranian campaign for the presidency, to be decided on mid June, is not far off. And the improvement of the nation's international environment is what the Iranians precisely aspire. As for President Ahmadinejad, he will undoubtedly prefer to win more votes if his government is able not to back off or to comprise to the U.S.
To date, both the U.S. and Iran apparently favor improving bilateral ties. What the Iranian side demands is "to talk in fair atmosphere with mutual respect”, whereas President Obama said he would reach out to talk to the Muslim world instead of gesticulating it profusely. "My job is to communicate the fact that … of the Muslim world, and (that the language we use has to a language of … the Muslim world) based on mutual respect and mutual interest,” he said.
The information also indicates an increasing possibility for US-Iranian direct talks. The focus of attention now rests with the nuclear issue that is to determine whether the dialogue will yield outcome or progress. Obama, Biden and Hillary Clinton all made it crystal clear that "Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable”. However, Iran's response is all the more clear-cut and unequivocal. That is, "Iran will never abandon its nuclear program.”
Consequently, the U.S.-Iranian relations have entered a subtle, delicate period. Perhaps, there is a hope for the start of U.S.-Iranian talks but is hard to predict the outcome of the talks.By People's Daily Online, and its author is PD chief resident reporter in U.S. Li Xuejianghttp://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2009-02/13/content_192023.htm