US Begins Talks, Negotiations With Iran And Syria
The Future Of Iraq Under Discussion By 60 Nations
Ambassadors from the United States and Iran, and dozens of other nations, are meeting in Egypt, while US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is using the same forum to talk and negotiate with Syria.
The future of Iraq is in such a perilous state that the United States has been forced to backdown from the Bush-Cheney mantra : "We don't negotiate with terrorists".
Representatives of some 60 nations are meeting in Egypt to work out how they are going to work together to stop Iraq from totally disintegrating into a hellstorm of ever-spreading death and bloodshed. Countries like Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at the talks because they hold real fears that the horrors of Iraq will soon spread across their borders.
The United States is at the talks because they simply have no other choice left. And Rice, and her ambassadors, are also doing the bidding of the majority of the Americans they represent, who don't view Syria or Iran as a threat, and back their elected leaders entering into conversations with two of the countries named, and supposedly shamed, as backers and supporters of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East.
Naturally, the NeoCons back in Washington are in a spluttering fury, much to their own embarrassment. The NeoCon blogworld, op-ed pages and talk back radio are alight with angst and fury that the United States would try to stop a full-blown Fourth World War from becoming a reality by doing what all the great nations of the world have done for millenia : negotiate, talk and blow away the poison of threats and hostility.
It hasn't all gone well, according to a US Department of State spokesman, who claims the Iranian foreign minister opted out of a dinner, where he would have been sitting opposite Rice, with the Americans claiming the Iranian foreign minister didn't want to be in the same room with a woman playing a violin as part of the background music to the meal :
But for the world's media, the US and Iran must do their dance, where neither gives in to the other, or shows any weakness. How exactly do serious talks begin when neither Iran or the United States will request a formal meeting with the other? It's disappointing to see adults acting like spoiled children when the future of the entire Middle East is at stake.
"I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.
Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met earlier at a lunch Thursday but exchanged only pleasantries. Neither appeared ready to make the first move for a real meeting.
"You can ask him why he didn't make an effort," Rice told reporters Friday. "I'm not given to chasing anyone."
According to Iraq's foreign minister, Iranian and American ambassadors did meet Friday for more serious talks on the sidelines of the conference to stabilize Iraq _ the second such encounter since March 10.
From the UK Guardian :
Early reports from the first day of the two day conference are not overwhelmingly positive. It appears Iran and the United States still have a long way to go before they feel they can negotiate with each other on equal terms.
The background to all this is the grandly named International Compact for Iraq, an initiative co-chaired by the UN, the World Bank and Iraq itself. It aims to build a framework for security, good governance and regional economic integration with the ambitious goal of a stable and prosperous Iraq within five years.
Diplomats say this is important stuff but admit it sounds like pie in the sky in the context of unending sectarian strife and the daily attacks on coalition forces. "It's probably wishful thinking to see a connection between this and what's happening on the ground," agreed one Arab official. Such scepticism has led to low expectations of what can be achieved.
But parts of the compact make good sense: the 42-page document includes a revenue-sharing oil law, a law to allow members of the now banned Ba'ath party back into public life, and an elections law that will set a date for provincial polls; the hope is that these "benchmarks" will help promote reconciliation by drawing Sunnis away from the insurgency and back into politics.
The broader purpose of the conference is to talk about what is at stake, for Iraq and the region, on the clear if unspoken assumption that the Americans and British are on their way out and that the neighbours need to more to help clear up the mess.
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