Obama Officials Say Talks with Iran Still Going Ahead

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Yesterday I asked if Barack Obama would still carry on with his naïve plans for diplomatic engagement with Iran, even as the blood of Iranian demonstrators was still warm on the streets of Tehran.

Today we have the answer: Obama officials say talks with Iran still possible.

Both Rice and David Axelrod, Obama’s top adviser, said Ahmadinejad doesn’t appear to have the final say over Iran’s foreign policy. Axelrod, dismissing Ahmadinejad’s harsh language against the U.S. and Obama as “bloviations,” said being open to talks with Iran is not an effort to reward the country.

“We are looking to … sit down and talk to the Iranians and offer them two paths. And one brings them back into the community of nations, and the other has some very stark consequences,” Axelrod said.

“We are also mindful of the fact that the nuclear weapons in Iran and the nuclearization of that whole region is a threat to that country, all countries in the region, and the world. And we have to address that. We can’t let that lie,” he said.

Axelrod said Tehran faces a choice between engaging the West or facing further isolation in the wake of a presidential election that sent protesters to the streets and questions about its validity.

“Let’s be clear that we didn’t meddle in the election in Iran,” he said. “The dispute in Iran is between the leadership in Iran and their own people, and plainly, Mr. Ahmadinejad thinks that by fingering the United States, that he can create a political diversion. So I’m not going to entertain his bloviations that are politically motivated.”

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