Soon after he took office, President Barack Obama began a process ultimately designed to reestablish full US diplomatic relations with Iran, including a reopening of embassies, an Israeli daily reported Sunday. The initiative, part of a wider shift in America’s diplomatic orientation, aimed at reaching understandings with Tehran over suspending its nuclear program, Maariv claimed, citing “two Western diplomats very close to the administration.”
The initiative led to at least two US-Iran meetings, the report said. Israel was made aware of the contacts, and opposed them.But Iran rebuffed the “diplomatic hand” offered by the White House, Maariv reported. The Islamist regime “opposed any sign of normalization with the US, and refused to grant a ‘prize’ to the Americans,” according to an anonymous Israeli source quoted by the paper.
The information — the lead item on Maariv’s front page, headlined “Obama offered to renew relations with Iran” — comes on the heels of reports earlier this month that the US and Iran held back channel contacts toward establishing direct talks over Tehran’s nuclear program. Both the White House and Iran denied those reports.According to Maariv, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili for an hour in 2009, and one other meeting between officials from both sides took place as well.
Included in the diplomatic incentives package offered by Washington would be, in the first stage, the opening of interest sections in Washington and Tehran, with the possibility subsequently of expanding to full diplomatic ties, including US and Iranian embassies and ambassadors in each other’s capitals, Maariv claimed.As part of restored diplomatic relations with Iran, Maariv reported, Washington was ready to hold senior level diplomatic contacts, to agree to reciprocal visits, to approve security cooperation between the countries, direct flights between the US and Iran, and the granting of visas to Iranians wishing to visit the US.