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Did Iran make a peace offer to the United States in 2003?

05/28/2006

MidEastWeb has obtained a document that purports to summarize an Iranian reconciliation overture to the United States government in the spring of 2003, proposing broad concessions to the United States, including cessation of terror and adoption of the Arab peace initiative, in return for a softening of the US attitude to Iran. The letter was sent via the Swiss government, which represents US interests in Iran. The existence of such a letter was claimed by Flynt Leverett in a New York Times article of January 24, 2006. He wrote:


In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran's power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration's response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.
( source - http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/fleverett/20060124.htm )

Leverett referred to the letter again in an interview dated March 31, 2006. He believes the letter, sent in late April or in May of 2003, was prompted by the start of the US invasion of Iraq, which made the Iranian government of reformist former President Khatami believe that it had to come to terms with the USA. According to Leverett, the US government refused to consider the letter and reprimanded the Swiss for passing it on.

Leverett referred to this letter as a one page document. Elsewhere, (http://www.antiwar.com/orig/porter.php?articleid=9040) it is alleged by Gareth Porter to be a two page document. According to Porter, the significance of the document is that:


The two-page document contradicts the official line of the George W. Bush administration that Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel and the sponsorship of terrorism in the region.


If the letter is authentic, then its rejection by the United States sheds new light on the Iranian nuclear development crisis.

Iranian concessions included, according to the summary we have obtained:

  • WMD: full transparency for security that there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess WMD, full cooperation with IAEA based on Iranian adoption of all relevant instruments (93+2 and all further IAEA protocols)

  • Terrorism: decisive action against any terrorists (above all Al Qaida) on Iranian territory, full cooperation and exchange of all relevant information.

  • Iraq: coordination of Iranian influence for activity supporting political stabilization and the establishment of democratic institutions and a non-religious government.

  • Middle East:
    1) stop any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad etc.) from Iranian territory, pressure on these organizations to stop violent action against civilians within borders of 1967.
    2) action on Hizbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon
    3) acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two-states-approach)


The full document is posted at http://www.mideastweb.org/iranian_letter_of_2003.htm

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000465.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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