Mon. 12 Mar 2007
The Daily Telegraph
When nations as estranged as America and Iran hold face-to-face meetings for the first time in years, choreography matters as much as the words exchanged across the table.
At a much-anticipated security summit in Iraq at the weekend, both the speeches and actions suggested Iran was not giving friendly signals to the United States. After a long day of diplomatic exchanges in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzhad, the US ambassador to Iraq, struggled to find words that cast the encounter in a positive light.
It was, he said, a "businesslike" meeting with "lively discussions". Yet as he entered the press room in the Iraqi foreign ministry, his Iranian counterpart walked out.
A man claiming to be a journalist who was part of Teheran's delegation, circulated a transcript of the Iranian speech inside the talks. He wore the type of windcheater fashionable in Teheran since the extremist politician Mahmoud Ahmedinejad became president.Iran's primary demand was a call for a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq.
Did Iran state that America's presence in Iraq was the cause of terrorism? "Yes," the Iranian said.
Did Teheran offer any concessions that would flow from an American timetable for withdrawal? "No," he said, with a smirk. More....
This is a good example of why I felt it was not yet in our best interest to have any dialogue with Iran at this point.