Iranian Lawmakers Sound Off on Talks With Washington

Iran has officially agreed to Washington’s request to hold direct talks over Iraq. In interviews with the Mehr News Agency, some lawmakers welcomed the decision, other criticized it, and still others said that the talks must not only benefit the United States, but must bring tangible results for Iran.

Conservative MP Shokrollah Attarzadeh calls the opening of a dialogue with the U.S. a “wise decision” and a “victory” for the current government.

“Opening the door to negotiations with the United States is a victory for the ninth (Ahmadinejad) administration. It demonstrates the courage and bravery of the government,” the MP who represents Bushehr pointed out. [Bushehr is the city where Iran’s key nuclear facility is located].

“Since the Quran and Islam enjoin us to “dialogue and healthy debate,” we should not fear dialogue and should assert our position clearly and forcefully,” he added.

Another conservative MP from the ruling faction, Mohammad-Reza Mirtajedini, argues that the announcement that Tehran is ready to hold talks with Washington and review its ties with Egypt “indicates a new determination by Iran to expand its diplomatic relations.”

“In the modern world, relations between countries have special complexities. The conditions for opening negotiations are not fixed and depends on the circumstances. For this reason, one should not expect a lack of relations with certain countries to be a permanent and everlasting condition,” Mirtajedini said.

Mirtajedini also noted that just the fact that the sides are talking about talks has led members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and other Arab states to have an “inclination” toward Iran. But he added that this doesn’t mean that negotiations will lead to formal relations between Iran and the U.S.

MP Abbas-Ali Akhtari said that negotiating with the United States under current circumstances would only benefit Washington. According to Akhtari, Iran should “condition talks on the removal of Iran’s nuclear dossier from the U.N. Security Council and the recognition of Iran’s inalienable right to nuclear technology.”

MP Mohammad-Hassan Qafuri-Fard, who represents Tehran, criticized the government’s decision to hold talks calling it a “mistake.”

Qafuri-Fard, the former conservative presidential candidate, argues that as long as Washington continues its hostile activity toward Iran, there is no reason to hold talks. According to him, there remains no indication that Washington has altered its “arrogant nature.”

According to Qafuri-Fard, the decision was a mistake, and those who have taken such a decision should explain why they have done so. “At this point in time, there is nothing good or expedient in negotiating with the United States,” Qafuri-Fard noted.

The chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Borujerdi, maintains that the situation is not yet ripe for talks, and that those lawmakers who are pushing for a parliamentary friendship group with U.S. congressmen must be unaware of ongoing American actions against Iran.

“These representatives probably don’t have information about the hostile actions being taken by the United States against Iran,” he told reporters.

“Future talks between Iran and the United States will be limited to Iraq. The other problems between Iran and the United States will have no place in these negotiations. If it were otherwise, the United States would take new hostile steps.”

He cited, “repeated sanctions, the attack on Iran’s official consulate in Iraq and the detention of Iranian diplomats” who were in the consulate, as some hostile acts already taken by the United States.

Sabah Zanganeh, an expert on international relations, said that Iran should not limit the talks to Iraq because in that case, because only Washington would benefit from them, since they would center exclusively on how Iran could use its influence to lesson America’s problems there.

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