carnegie logo

Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next »

IRAN: Swiss leak word of secret U.S.-Iranian talks


Iran-obama2 For six years, groups of American and Iranian academics and others have been secretly traveling to Geneva and other European cities for closed-door brainstorming sessions on how to break through three decades of hostility between the two nations, a Swiss newspaper is reporting. 

According to a lengthy and detailed report in the French-language Swiss daily Le Temps, the informal series of meetings took place with the full knowledge of authorities in Washington and Tehran.

About 400 people have taken part in the discussions -- called the "Track II" process -- including experts and scholars from Europe, the Arab world and Israel. None of the participants would speak on the record about the meetings.

But Switzerland's foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, told reporters that her government was fully aware of the contacts, the last of which took place from March 6 to 8.

"The talks are on a purely informal level and the foreign ministry is not involved,"  she said, according to an English-language report on the website of Swiss public broadcasting.

Both Iran and the U.S. consider Switzerland neutral ground. 

Bern, the Swiss capital, has served as Washington's diplomatic rep in Tehran since Iran and the U.S. broke off relations in the early 1980s. 

It has also won Tehran's favor for its refusal to abide by U.S. restrictions against doing big business with Iran, including multibillion-dollar energy deals.

One unnamed scholar told Le Temps he took part in hopes that dialogue could lead to mutual understanding between Iran and the U.S. He said participants could say whatever they wanted during freewheeling discussions, unrestricted by the ideological straitjackets imposed on diplomats in Washington and Tehran. 

Among those present at the meeting in early March were a person close to the Iranian government and an ambassador, as well as nuclear scientists, strategists and experts of international relations in a discussion about Iran's controversial nuclear program, according to Le Temps. 

Le Temps said the venue for the informal meetings would shift away from Geneva to avoid the international spotlight.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: An Iranian demonstrator in Tehran holds up a poster critical of President Obama's support for Israel during February celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Credit: Borzou Daragahi / Los Angeles Times

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.
Comments () | Archives (3)

Fortunately relation between US and Iran by default is well since 1776, overtly or covertly.
Unfortunately Israel is acting like jealous spouse which will not approve of new spouse when it comes to her standing in eye of her benefactors, whether be US or Persians!
Arguably Israel were happy to have a Shah gone since he had ambition to challenge Israel nuclear dominance in that region.
Israel were selling arms to Iran during 80's but leaked Iran-Contra arm sales to a Lebanon's newspaper in order to prevent US and Iran from mending relation (only US and Israel knew about arm sales to Iran).
Israel forced US congress in 90's to slap sanctions and dual containment policy on Iran since Iran was legally obtaining full cycle nuclear industry from Russia (including enrichment) and that through Iran and US dialog in to trash bin which was getting better since Iran cooperation toward first US war against Iraq (hence Bush Sr. tough attitude towards Israel for leaking Iran-Contra affair).
Israel illegally intercept a Iranian ship loaded with weapon destine for Syria (artillery and guided missiles according to published photos) in 2002, with false claim that it was intended for Palestinian use (even today Palestinians can't use anything above small arms and home made rockets), and forced their lackeys in US to include Iran on a Axis of Evil list, regardless of US and Iran cooperation to dismantle extremists from Afghanistan, mind you in that time it was well known that Iran was legally building nuclear enrichment facilities against the wishes of Israel.
And stay tune for Israel mischief for current US and Iran dialog (they have tried with Karine A II incident which ended up in Cyprus) since Iran is well on her way to have a nuclear industry and Israel going to get shafted again if history is judge for mischief parties.
US and Iran are natural allies and no one else can permanently come between them since both have a strategic location and cultural attachment and dream!

In regards to Michael's comments, I have to say that you should not get so agitated by Ahmadinejad's words. He is just saying these things about Israel, so they are invited to the bargaining table with the United Stated. In actuality they are after a two state solution, but I guess Jewish people are famous for being great bargainers (Hagglers), but Iranians, like their Iranian-Jewish brothers are also good at this. So it is about getting your position set.

As soon as the United States starts having negotiations with Iran and start mending their relationship with Iran, the Iranian leaders will tone down their words, specially after getting a few American Oil& Gas companies sign up deals with them. After all good business requires you to take it easy.

There was a day when covert actions like this would be prosecuted as treaon. This administration is engaging in treason, just as the last did. I must ask why it is that Biden and Obama are trying to pressure Israel into giving up land to appease arabs, as well as trying to tie the Israelis hands diplomatically. This will end badly for the U.S. We already have mutual understanding of the Iranians, they want us obliterated just as they do Israel, and you cannot negotiate wny other outcome with them. So, if you are prepared to just die, go ahead and negotiate or support negotiations with these godless people. Other wise, you had beeter understand that nothing less than your life and wealth are at stake. There is nothing else in the world that they want, so there is no monetary solution, there is no land for peace solution....they have already went back on these promises. So, what else is there? They aren't going away...so wuit hiding your head in the sand with those hopes. They will be there awaiting the perfect opportunity to attack us, and will do so if given that opportunity. So what are you prepared to do? Someone at some point must make some decisisons. If we aren't prepared to handle the tough stuff, then shut up and let Israel do it. Then we can hunker down into obscurity, as our importance and influence in the world continues to erode. Half the world hates us, because of our freedom and liberty. Others hate us for our past prosperity. Many just hate us, because of envy, and then there are those who hate us because of religion. How odd is it, that the only religion which does not demand death for non-believers, is the one that they target as a danger and a threat. Yes its a threat, the truth always is a threat. There is no peaceful "solution". We are at a clash of worldview, and the course has been set. We will either win, or we will lose. I vote for the former, where do you stand? All the political spin aside, we are faced with a real threat, one which will not just go away. The question you MUST ponder is, upon which side do your allegiences fall?


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »

Categories


Archives
 


About the Contributors