IRAN SAYS NO TO TALKS WITH THE USAnd so the game of cat and mouse continues. From Yahoo! News:
Iran's foreign minister on Thursday welcomed direct talks with Washington on his country's disputed nuclear program but rebuffed a U.S. proposal that Tehran must suspend uranium enrichment as a condition, state-run television reported.Here's the offer:
"Iran welcomes dialogue under just conditions but (we) won't give up our (nuclear) rights," the television quoted Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying.
"We won't negotiate about the Iranian nation's natural nuclear rights but we are prepared, within a defined, just framework and without any discrimination, to hold dialogue about (our) common concerns," he added.
"Our message to the Iranians is that one, you won't have a weapon, and two, that you must verifiably suspend any programs at which point we will come to the negotiating table to work on a way forward,"Sensible talk that, for all concerned. Not that the Iranian Foreign Minister sees it quite the same way:
President Bush said Wednesday.
"I thought it was important for the United States to take the lead — along with our partners," Bush said. "And that's what you're seeing. You're seeing robust diplomacy. I believe this problem can be solved diplomatically and I'm going to give it every effort to do so."
Mottaki said Iran has no intention to halt its uranium enrichment program.As you were then.
"There is no evidence proving Iran's diversion (toward nuclear weapons). Therefore, Iran is interested in continuing this path," he said.
The prospect of talks is mildly encouraging, but don't get too carried away. Iran's President is still off with the faeries if his interview with Der Spiegel is anything to go by:
SPIEGEL: First you make your remarks about the Holocaust. Then comes the news that you may travel to Germany -- this causes an uproar. So you were surprised after all?So if the Holocaust happened, Israel should be relocated to Europe. If it didn't, Jews should "go back to where they came from". Head I win, tails you lose.
Ahmadinejad: No, not at all, because the network of Zionism is very active around the world, in Europe too. So I wasn't surprised. We were addressing the German people. We have nothing to do with Zionists.
Well, then we have stirred up a very concrete discussion. We are posing two very clear questions. The first is: Did the Holocaust actually take place? You answer this question in the affirmative. So, the second question is: Whose fault was it? The answer to that has to be found in Europe and not in Palestine. It is perfectly clear: If the Holocaust took place in Europe, one also has to find the answer to it in Europe.
On the other hand, if the Holocaust didn't take place, why then did this regime of occupation ...
SPIEGEL: ... You mean the state of Israel...
Ahmadinejad: ... come about? Why do the European countries commit themselves to defending this regime? Permit me to make one more point. We are of the opinion that, if an historical occurrence conforms to the truth, this truth will be revealed all the more clearly if there is more research into it and more discussion about it.
SPIEGEL: Well, we are conducting this historical debate with you for a very timely purpose. Are you questioning Israel's right to exist?
Ahmadinejad: Look here, my views are quite clear. We are saying that if the Holocaust occurred, then Europe must draw the consequences and that it is not Palestine that should pay the price for it. If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from. I believe that the German people today are also prisoners of the Holocaust. Sixty million people died in the Second World War. World War II was a gigantic crime. We condemn it all. We are against bloodshed, regardless of whether a crime was committed against a Muslim or against a Christian or a Jew. But the question is: Why among these 60 million victims are only the Jews the center of attention?
This should serve as a wake-up call for those who claim that Ahmadinejad only spouts his antisemitic nonsense for the benefit of a minority of crazies back home. At least he's upfront and honest about it, unlike some leaders who say one thing to the West and quite another to their own people. The West can hardly say it doesn't know where he stands on Israel.
On the Iraq War, this remark was quite breathtaking in its hypocrisy:
No, we feel animosity toward no one. We're concerned about the American soldiers who die in Iraq. Why do they have to die there?Why indeed? Perhaps the insurgents who sally to and fro across the Iraq-Iran border might have something to do with it?
UPDATE: Great post from Brownie over at Harry's Place on this. If you've not already looked, do so.