| 3 December 2023, Sunday |

Renewed debate in Iran over normalization of ties with US

The official Iranian newspaper strongly criticized a proposal by former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to engage in comprehensive political dialogue with the West, including the US, to end the diplomatic estrangement and normalize relations after nearly 44 years.

In an extensive interview with the Entekhab website, which is closely affiliated with the team of former President Hassan Rouhani, Salehi stated that Iran has engaged in negotiations with the US on specific issues amid the challenges between the two nations.

He pointed to Iranian-US dialogues concerning Afghanistan, Iraq, prisoner exchanges, and the nuclear agreement.

However, Salehi emphasized that Tehran and Washington have not entered comprehensive and wide-ranging political negotiations covering other aspects.

Salehi had played a prominent role in leading the nuclear negotiations during the final months of his tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs under the rule of former conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Afterward, he assumed the presidency of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran at the beginning of Rouhani’s term in office.

He oversaw the transition of the previously secret nuclear talks, facilitated by Oman, into the public domain within the framework of the P5+1 in 2013. These negotiations culminated in the landmark nuclear agreement in 2105 after two years of deliberations.

“Given the regional and international circumstances, we have a good and opportune chance to engage in comprehensive political dialogue with the West, including the US and Europe,” said Salehi.

He pointed out that “relations between Iran and the US have been influenced by negative factors between the two countries for over 44 years.”

“Throughout these years, our relations have not been favorable and have been negative since the beginning of the revolution,” said Salehi about the revolt that toppled the Shah’s regime in 1979.

While referring to the suffering of Iranians due to the deteriorating living conditions over the past 44 years, Salehi attributed the economic downturn to “inefficiency in various administrative sectors.”

He also stated that “a significant portion of the current state of the country is a result of sanctions.”

“Due to the political situation and the challenges between us and the West, particularly the US, they exert pressure on us in any way possible,” noted Salehi.

He noted that his country has received recommendations from Russia and China regarding the need to regulate relations with the US “to resolve the issues” that are hindering Iran from expanding cooperation with Moscow and Beijing.

“In the face of these circumstances and economic conditions, we cannot establish relations with major banks in the world,” commented Salehi.

“Everything becomes costly for us, and we have needs that must be met from abroad because we cannot easily do so,” he added.

“We buy goods at multiple times their original prices,” he remarked, indirectly alluding to the repercussions of circumventing US sanctions.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat