January 13, 2007
America and Iran: We Need to Talk
To the Editor:
The United States and Iran must talk. Not with the mutually negative
public rhetoric that for the 27 years since the 1979 hostage crisis has
eroded the trust needed for any diplomatic exchange; not indirectly, as
we do now on the nuclear issue through our Security Council and European
Union colleagues; but frontally and frankly as responsible powers with
shared interests in a critically important part of the world.
The absence of dialogue has made no sense on any count — strategic,
human, historic, political, cultural. It has complicated our
relationships with every other country in the region. We alone among the
powers have chosen to signal in this way our reservations about Iran’s
conduct in the world arena.
Geography alone compels Iran’s participation in helping deal with both
Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention long-term regional security
understandings in the Persian Gulf region. A host of other issues compel
dialogue, including Iran’s obligations vis-à-vis the former hostages.
Talking won’t be easy. Formal diplomatic relations are a long way off.
But we lose nothing now by joining directly with our allies and friends
in direct soundings of Iran’s intentions.
Bethesda, Md., Jan. 1, 2007
The writer was a hostage in Tehran from 1979 to 1981 as chargé of the
York Times Company <http://www.nytco.com/>