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Still Iran and USA are unprepared to discuss bilateral problems

Statements by Michael Bauer

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 2 /Trend News, by D.Ibrahimova. T. Jafarov contributed to the article.

03.04.2009 · Trend News

Still Iran and the United States are not prepared to start direct talks on the relations between them, but also the human rights situation in Iran will not change the new approach of Washington to Teheran.

The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad-Mahdi Akhoundzadeh and the U.S. special representative on Afghanistan Richard Holbrook met during the international conference, dedicated to Afghanistan, which took place in the Hague on March 30.

She said that during the meeting, the American side presented to the Iranian representative a letter requesting to render "humanitarian aid" to three Americans, who could not return to the United States from Iran. Robert Levinson, former agent of FBI, disappeared two years ago after his trip to Iran. Fate of journalist Roxana Saberi and Esha Momeni, participant of the campaign of "1,000,000 signatures", is also unknown.

The representative of the Foreign Ministry of Iran refuted information on informal negotiations during the meeting between the delegates of Iran and the United States, and also on presenting the letter to the Iranian side.

"I doubt that the US will cancel its new approach to Iran because of human rights issues, even though this is a sensible issue in US politics," Michael Bauer, German expert on Iran, told Trend News via e-mail.  

Experts consider that the refutation by Iran was made because still Teheran is not prepared for direct talks with the United States, even in spite of presence of common interests of these two countries.

The other possibility is that the Iranian side is not quite ready for the negotiation and for that matter try to keep the doors and channels closed until further notice, Hossein Moghaddam, Australian expert on İranian policy, told Trend News via e-mail.  

This accord with the recent political gesture of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei after Barack Obama's video congratulation message for the Iranian people on Novruz Holiday.  

In his video message, Obama added that the new government is devoted to, "pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead, engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect." 

Khamenei said that Iran will not do anything until the US changes his policies in practice.

The relations between Iran and USA broke 30 years ago after the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran by the Iranian students. The former U.S. President George Bush Junior described Iran as "the axis of evil", together with Iraq and North Korea as the countries, which support terrorism. Currently the relations between the countries aggravate due to Iran's nuclear development program, on peaceful nature of which Washington doubts.

Such meeting was denied by the Iranian officials, perhaps due to the fact that it never happened in the real sense of an actual meeting, although they might have met over the dinner in the conference and exchanged a few words, Moghaddam, Convenor of Iranian Studies at Australian National University, said.  

Experts consider that now sides are not prepared for discussion of bilateral problems, but they can discuss the questions, which are of interest for the USA and Iran, but they do not concern them directly.

Even though the Iranian leadership still does not really trust Obama, the participation of Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister shows that Iran is interested in re-establishing contact with the USA, Bauer, fellow of German Center for Political Studies, thinks. 

They have a lot of issues to talk about - Afghanistan, Iraq, drugs, refugees, maritime security -not only the nuclear programme, he said. 

Human rights situation in Iran will not present obstacles on the way of re-establishing relations between Washington and Teheran, experts said. 

For the number of people, who incurred death punishment, Iran ranks the second after China. Iran also takes the second place in Middle East region by the amount of restricted web-sites,- upon the report made by the organization "Journalists without boarders".

However, if the USA shares an interest in improving bilateral relations with Tehran, this is not going to be changed by human rights issues.

English expert of Iranian origin Piruz Mujtahidzade considers that both Teheran and Washington must express their requirements for each other in order to start negotiations. The United States can make requirements regarding their citizens, Mujtahidzade, chairman of the London studies center Evrosevik, told Trend News in a telephone conversation. "Moreover, Iran can ask to cancel prohibition imposed on investing in the Iranian economy," he said. 

Because of Iran's nuclear development program, the UN Security Council imposed three rounds of economic sanctions, which considerably complicate the development of the country.

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