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Hardline Faction in Iran Advocating Talks with the U.S.

July 25, 2019 (EIRNS)—On July 19, the New York Times ran a story that the hardliners in Iran have split on the question of whether to talk to the United States. Notably, the leading figure on the side of those who say that the U.S. and Iran must talk is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Rouhani’s immediate predecessor.

“Mr. Trump is a man of action,” Ahmadinejad told the Times in a lengthy telephone interview.

“He is a businessman and therefore he is capable of calculating cost-benefits and making a decision. We say to him, let’s calculate the long-term cost-benefit of our two nations and not be shortsighted.”

Ahmadinejad further said that Tehran and Washington should directly resolve the long list of disputes that began with the 1979 revolution, the seizure of the United States Embassy, the taking of American hostages, the mutual accusations of regional meddling and all the rest. “World peace, economy and culture would greatly benefit from us working together,” said Ahmadinejad.

“The U.S. wants to address wider issues than the JCPOA [2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal]. The issues at stake are more important and wider than whether the JCPOA should live or die. We need to have a fundamental discussion.”

This does not mean that Ahmadinejad believes that Tehran should talk to the U.S. while the Trump Administration is maintaining suffocating sanctions on Iran. “If you choke the throat of anyone in the world and say come and talk, it won’t be valid,” he said. “Negotiations must take place in calmer, more respectful conditions so they can be long-lasting.”

If the Times is reporting what Ahmadinejad said accurately, this suggests that a faction of the hardliners—and the Times report named three other prominent conservatives with the same view—is more closely aligned with the reformist elements in Iran on whether to talk with the U.S. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as reported by the Iranian presidential website, reiterated Iran’s stance in remarks to his cabinet on July 24, in which he said that if the other parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement

“fully comply with their obligations, we are able to return to the previous situation, and if the other party takes the right and balanced action, and a ceasefire in the economic war is announced, there will be an opportunity to talk to each other and to come to a conclusion.”

He further said, “Of course, there are countries as intermediaries, and there are correspondences and calls underway, and everyone should know that we will never miss the opportunity for negotiation.”

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