Thursday, May 3, 2007

On the Sidelines of Sharm el-Sheikh

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today held an unprecedented meeting with her Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem at Sharm el-Sheikh. Rice also had a brief exchange of words with the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki over lunch. Rice and Mottaki were sitting around a small table.

The US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed the brief axchange of words between Mottaki and Rice. Although the encounter lacked any political substance, it was still a reflection of a willingness on the part of both countries to engage in some form of dialogue.

Yesterday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a gathering in Sirjan that the Iranian people are “the men of dialogue” and welcome fair talks. Referring to the US, Ahmadinejad said if they step forward honestly, then Iran will enter the talks honestly.

On a related issue, Britain warned that the UN Security Council will need to take “further action” if Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. The warning came at the end of a meeting of 5+1 countries that was held in London yesterday. AFP quoted the British officials that there was a “strong agreement” among the six powers on how to deal with Iran if it does not abide by the latest UN resolution. They did not give any details on such agreement.

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