Paris, 11 Aug. (IPS) As the American President George W. Bush again threatened action against the Islamic Republic of Iran if it continues its support of terrorist groups in Iraq and in Afghanistan and to continue arming and train insurgents who are killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, one of the most high-ranking and influential Iranian cleric offered Washington unconditional and unlimited talks.
“Talking without preconditions is the best way for solving problems. Iran is always ready for negotiations, but America must choose the right path, take back its humiliating and unacceptable conditions”, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Iranian number two man after the all powerful Leader of the theocratic regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, told worshipers during the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.
Iran has an important role in solving regional problems.
His offer was made as the Bush administration’s efforts to blame the Iranian ruling clerics for growing violence in both Iraq and Afghanistan suffered a humiliating set back by the rulers of these countries that are supported by Washington.
“Iran has an important role in solving regional problems. The Middle East, as a very sensitive region, must not be experience more troubles and agitations, for, if the area is confronting difficulties, many countries would suffer, but particularly the industrial imperialist powers would feel the smoke in their eyes”, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani pointed out.
Mr. Nouri al-Maleki, the Sh’ite Prime Minister of Iraq just ended a successful visit to Iran, where the rulers, including Mr. Khameneh’i and the fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, assured him of Tehran’s full cooperation and support both for his Government, for fighting insurgency and violence, as well as helping reconstruction of the devastated nation.
In a joint appearance, Maleki told Ahmadi Nezhad that Iran has a "positive and constructive" role in improving security in Iraq, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Asked about the warm reception Mr. Maleki received in Tehran, President Bush said Thursday that Iran was a danger to the Middle East, and promised that if Maleki did not share that view, he would have a "heart to heart" talk with him.
“The Americans and the British present the situation in such a manner that if they leave Iraq, the country would be doomed for ever. But the fact is that the biggest difficulty Iraq faces is the continuation of foreign occupation forces. If they out of Iraq, all Iraqi leaders would enter the arena and hands in hands, would fight for removing difficulties and hardship”, Ayatollah Khameneh’i on Thursday told Mr. Maleki during an audience in the north-eastern holly city of Mash-had, where the Iraqi Prime Minister and some of the members of his delegation prayed on the shrine of Reza, the eighth imam of the Sh’ites.
"We support the elected government of Iraq, and all of the factions and ethnic groups should cooperate with the elected government. The only problem, the big problem in Iraq today, is the occupation of Iraq by British and American forces", the Iranian Leader added in his remarks to his Iraqi guest.
Earlier past week, Mr. Hamed Karzai, the Afghan President-Prime Minister had described Iran as one of Afghanistan’s “best friends”, adding that Iran was among the very few nations that help his country fighting terrorism and drugs. Mr. Bush did not like the remarks and openly challenged Karzai’s view.
“We had warned the Americans that Afghanistan and Iraq are quagmires. Everybody knows the nature of quagmire. Once in it, one can not get out but with external forces”, a clear hint by Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is the Chairman of the influential Expediency Council, to Iran’s “readiness” to help the desperate Americans evacuating Iraq with a “saved face”.
At the White House press conference, Mr. Bush repeated his accusations concerning the finality of the controversial Iranian nuclear programme which, he said, was to destroy Israel and also called on the Iranian people to change “a regime they do not deserve” and “join the international community”.
We had warned the Americans that Afghanistan and Iraq are quagmires
After criticizing Washington for its insistence that Iranian nuclear activities have a military use and observing that despite all their fabricated allegations, they have not been able to provide one single convincing document supporting their claims, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani touched to the Tehran-Washington direct talks concerning Iraq, describing the results so far as being “rather ineffective”.
“However, if one pays attention to the Iraqi and regional realities without imperialist’s aims, hegemony and without hate towards Islam, having in view only peace for humanity and the interests of the people of the region, one can expect positive results from the negotiations”, he said, adding that “so far, the Americans have not sent good signals”.
The former Iranian president was referring to the two face to face meetings in Baghdad held between the Iranian and the American ambassadors to Iraq on 28 May and 24 July 2007.
The talks were in response to an official request from the Iraqi government aimed at bringing the two archenemies to cooperate restoring peace and stability to Iraq by fighting against islamist terrorists, former Baathists and Sunni Muslims, Al-Qa’eda in the one hand and Sh’ite extremists on the other.
Tehran accepted the Iraqi request, stating that the talks, though direct, should and would not mean discussing normalization of relations with Washington, which cut all ties with the Islamic Republic after Islamic revolutionary students stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took 55 American diplomats and staff hostage for 444 days.
The Bush Administration accuses Iran to give military equipments and training to all the fighting groups in order to combat American forces in Iraq.
“At each meeting (in Baghdad), the American accuses us of interfering in Iraqi affairs while they have 150.000 troops in that country. In their media, they pretend that Iran is besieged by the Americans. But it is not we that are encircled; it is the Americans that are besieged by Iran. It is the US that is engulfed in the Iraqi quagmire. If we refuse and if the Americans refuse to correct itself, they could never achieve their goals in the region”, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani stressed, concluding: “Whenever they go and whatever they do, the American would reach the result that first and foremost, they have to satisfy Iran”.
Iranian political analysts say though this is not the first time that Tehran has made public its readiness for holding direct talks with Americans, but it is the first time that one of the most influential personality of the regime offers an olive branch to Washington and make indirect hint to the possibility that the talks could include Tehran-Washington relations.
“Usually, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pragmatic cleric, does not make such a bold comment without prior consultation with Mr. Khameneh’i. The proposals he offered the Bush Administration is aimed at creating more confusing in Washington about the way to deal with Iran, between to hawks at the White House that push for military action and the doves at the State Department that prefer a diplomatic solution”, an Iranian active diplomat commented.
“At the same time, it could mean that afraid by the irrational policies of Ahmadi Nezhad that has cost Iran two resolutions at the United Nations Security Council, a growing isolation of Iran in the international community and a huge military package by the Americans to the Arab nations, Ayatollah Khameneh’i might be thinking of putting a brake on the President’s train of which he has taken off the brakes and the rear gear”, he speculated. ENDS IRAN US TALKS 11807