House Conservatives Endorse Direct, Unconditional Talks With Iran

Twelve conservative House Republicans have written a letter to President Bush backing unconditional direct talks with Iran, and warning that the United States should “not allow a disagreement over pre-conditions to scuttle negotiations before they have the chance to begin.”

The letter pointedly notes that the “‘no negotiation’ stance has not yielded positive results” — an implied indictment of the Bush policy over the last several years — and concludes by saying that “There are seldom occassions in history where a great country should fear dialogue with a potential adversary.”

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently announced that the Bush administration would participate in direct negotiations with Iran — but only if Iran first agreed to suspend uranium enrichment. Many experts doubt whether that offer will be sufficient. Kenneth Katzman, an Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service, told Laura Rozen:

“I don’t think the Iranians are going to accept this. The U.S. didn’t offer any concrete concessions. All the U.S. said is we would come to the table. We didn’t say what we would do at the table. There’s not enough in it for Iran.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), John Hostettler (R-IN), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), among others.

Andy Grotto