Now that it's certain that Iran and the United States will soon hold talks, both sides emphasize that the negotiations will focus only on Iraq.

It seems that as a whole, people in the Islamic Republic agree that Iran should negotiate with the United States on the issue of Iraq. But the pre-condition that talks should be limited to Iraq seems somewhat odd, considering that Iran is trying to overcome obstacles over its nuclear program, and that meanwhile, the U.S. is directing the whole fiasco from behind the scenes. Why shouldn't they be willing to discuss an issue as important as Tehran's nuclear dossier?

The question here is whether those who favor talks with the U.S. agree that they should focus exclusively on Iraq.

Up to now, there has been no explicit response to this question, but those who have set such criteria for negotiating with the Americans need to explain why.

One response that could be given, even by Iranian statesmen, is that because of a complete lack of confidence in it, Tehran stands by its long-held principle of not negotiating with the United States. But in an effort to reduce the suffering of the oppressed Iraqi people, Iran is ready to talk to the Americans simply because it wishes to bring stability and peace to Iraq, and to play its role in doing so.

The Iraqi issue aside, it is also expected that the talks will provide a path to a possible understanding on other issues.

The other question that needs to be asked is this: What is the U.S. after in these negotiations? Does it really mean to allay the sufferings of the Iraqi people and recognize Iran's indisputable influence in Iraq? Or is it just looking to find a way out of the quagmire it has created there? Or, is it looking for something else?

It would be erroneous to believe that the U.S. administration under George Bush's leadership would take Iran's rights into consideration; or that it is looking for a real solution to the difficulties that entangle the Iraqi people.

This undoubtedly is not the case. The U.S. is merely heeding the repeated demands of Israel and certain Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Washington is simply trying to rid the region of Iran's influence and block it from playing any role on Iraq's development.

We need to ascertain how the U.S. plans to obtain this goal and what instruments it will employ for doing so.

To accomplish this task, the U.S. is exerting pressure by conducting propaganda campaigns against Tehran, arresting and detaining Iranian officials and presenting evidence to prove Iran's influence in Iraq. By doing so, Washington seeks to gradually persuade us to give up in Iraq and leave everything to the enemy. Under such circumstances, Iran 's most insecure border would continue as such. The only thing that need occur to complete this scenario would be a new Baathist in power there, who would not only create a hell for Shiites in Iraq, but create new problems for Iran, Kuwait and others.

America's current propaganda attack on Iran has been ongoing for several years, and has become more intense over recent months with the influence of the Israelis and Saudis. But such efforts have so far had no effect, because Washington has never spoken to the Tehran authorities face to face.

Another possible motive for the United States would be to open a dialogue with Iran - but not to offer concessions, acknowledge Iran's rights in the region or help secure a border that has been subject to aggression for eight years. Rather, by negotiating, the Americans intend merely to question Iran's behavior. This seems to be the real intent of the talks suggested by the U.S.

It is likely therefore that during the talks, the Americans will behave as though only their claims are valid. Based on documents and evidence provided by the Israelis, Saudis and Baathists, they will likely ask Iran to put an end to its influence in Iraq and pave the way to further domination by the U.S. and Sunni Arab countries.

If America's real intention is to put Iran on trial, then what positions would it be appropriate for Tehran to take?

With the eagerness that some Iranian officials are showing toward holding talks with the U.S., it's clear to see that Tehran will be deterred from its rightful path. If our foreign policy officials embark on this path of self-deception and undue kindness, Iran will lose everything.

If this happens, Iran will be unable to fulfill its historic duty to the Iraqi people and it will lose control of other issues in the region and leave the field open to America and its surrogates. Ironically though, such a state of affairs would not only be detrimental to Iran, it wouldn't benefit the United States either.

If the U.S. intends to treat Iran as the "accused," then it will be essential to force the Americans internalize the fact that peace and stability will never be restored in Iraq unless the rights of both the Iraqi and Iranian peoples are recognized. It was extremely important for both countries that Saddam - who set the region aflame for over 20 years - has been removed. But it is just as important to understand that a return of the Baathists would be both unacceptable and dangerous for the entire region. Moreover, it is imperative to realize that democracy can be secured only if the current Iraqi government - which holds this view in regard to the Baathists - remains in power.

If Iran is to be accused of interfering in Iraq and put on trial by a government that invaded the country without U.N. Security Council authorization, committed thousands of war crimes and trespassed on Iraqi rights … it would be quite unnatural to agree to negotiate with such and insolent claimant.

During these talks, Iran's interests can be secured only if it sits at the table with its hands full of evidence of America's unnecessary and irrelevant interference in Iraq, its useless killing of Iraqi people and its implementation of mistaken and ill-fated policies.

There should be no doubt that the Americans will come to the table the attitude outlined here. Negotiations should only be conducted by those who are fully aware of American policies in the region, particularly those in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we will be hard presses to find anyone in Iran's foreign policy establishment capable of managing such a situation.

So there appears to be only one path for the U.S. and Iran to follow, although they obviously are working at cross purposes. To provide security in Iraq, they both should choose a path that will lead to stabilizing the embattled country. But at the same time, other states in the region must be made to recognize the rights of the majority of the Iraqi people, and stop supporting the Baathists and al-Qaeda.