November 9, 2008

Bush Administration To Open Up U.S. Office In Iran?

I thought we don't deal with terrorist? After delaying negotiations with Iran earlier, because of the presidential race was going on, the Bush administration is moving forward with plans to become diplomatic with Iran by having offices in Tehran. "Special interests" offices they are called. After all the talk by Mccain and the republican party on dealing with Iran, Bush is giving the so called terrorists more of a stage in the world of legitimacy. This is a plan that has been in the running for months, but was delayed so not to cause a distraction or contradiction for John Mccain. The Newsweek story explains the plan and reasoning for the office:

Story by
Mark Hosenball and
Michael Isikoff

With barely two months left in office, the Bush administration is moving toward restoring partial diplomatic relations with Iran—a country President Bush once denounced as a part of the "Axis of Evil."

An administration plan to open a "U.S.-interests section" in the Swiss Embassy in Tehran has been endorsed by career State Department officials and has won the backing of some senior policymakers inside the White House, according to administration officials who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice favors the move but is reviewing details before making a final recommendation to the president. The United States has not yet asked the Iranian government if it would accept such a delegation, though in the past Iranian officials have indicated an interest in the idea. An administration official said an announcement of such a move was likely "before Thanksgiving."

The change would likely be interpreted as a retreat from past administration policies aimed at isolating the Iranian regime. It could create opportunities—and pitfalls—for the incoming foreign-policy team of President-elect Barack Obama. The new president's approach to such issues as Iranian support for Shiite militias in Iraq and Tehran's nuclear program is certain to receive intense scrutiny.

As recently as last summer, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed strong approval for the notion of a U.S.-interests section in Tehran. However, officially the Obama campaign and transition team is declining to discuss the subject. Obama's team has not been consulted on the Tehran plan, said one administration official. Not only is the current administration under no legal obligation to consult with its successors, but the incoming administration might find it advantageous for outgoing policymakers to take responsibility for potentially controversial foreign-policy moves like this, the official said.

In what might be a gesture to placate remaining administration hardliners before the new diplomatic initiative is launched, the Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that it was tightening U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. The new regulations will stop U.S. banks from processing transactions by foreign banks that indirectly involve Iran. The Treasury said it was taking this action to crack down on alleged efforts by the Iranians to support terrorism and advance its nuclear interests.

Over the last two years, factions within the Bush administration have squabbled over the "interests section" proposal—which would partially restore a U.S. diplomatic presence in Tehran, ties that have been broken since the 1979-1980 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis. Administration hard-liners allegedly have vehemently opposed such a development, and only a few months ago associates of Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly were seriously discussing the possibility of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites. Some hard-liners still argue strongly against the plan, as demonstrated in a new broadside by Michael Rubin, an American Enterprise Institute scholar who advised Pentagon officials before the Iraq war. But Rice and other administration officials have argued that the proposal should move ahead.

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