Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Talking with Iran: a Geneva score card

William Burns is seen at a press conference in June.
Laura Rosen, at Politico/ here

Format: With the Europeans officially hosting the talks, the EU’s Solana will make introductory remarks before inviting Iran’s Jalili to respond and address the gathering. Then, Solana will invite each delegation to make a statement or convey a message or comment on some aspect of Jalili’s proposal. (Each delegation is likely to be represented in the meeting by “1+1” — in diplo-speak —one lead official accompanied by a key deputy). All of this has to be translated. Then the group will break for lunch, followed by a likely afternoon plenary session. 
Lunch itself offers more diplomatic opportunities. “An interpreter can help pin down some subjects,” Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said. “Everything is pretty open.” 
The U.S. delegation is currently planning to return to Washington on Friday, a State Department official said. But at least some participants think there is a possibility for a second day of talks. 
What the U.S. and its allies want: Success in the talks would consist of two things, U.S. and international diplomatic sources said: a decision on dates for further talks, as well as an agreement reached on some sort of structured discussions involving Iran's nuclear program, among other issues. 
“What I can tell you is, if there are no follow-on meetings, that is not good news,” Cristina Gallach, a spokeswoman for chief European negotiator Solana, told POLITICO. “Such an important subject cannot be solved without entering into a dialogue, and eventually, hopefully, into formal negotiations. Therefore, the objective of this meeting is to prepare for meaningful negotiations on all issues, including, of course, the nuclear issue. Therefore such a process needs substantial engagement.” 
But while Solana would try to achieve that, she warned, he could not guarantee that outcome.

What the Iranians want: Presumably, to split the international coalition from a unified position, as well as any indication from the U.S. or its allies that there would be a willingness to negotiate some level of continued uranium enrichment program
“They want to make sure they keep their enrichment program,” says the National Iranian American Council’s Trita Parsi. “They want to make sure they get continuous dialogue with the U.S. And they want recognition [of their role] in the region. And they want elimination of an external threat" -- some sort of guarantee from the U.S. that they won’t be attacked. 

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