Sweetening the Pot for Tehran

Thursday, July 17, 2008

President Bush's decision to shift a long-held stance and allow a top U.S. diplomat to attend nuclear talks with Iran follows a less-noticed but critical policy change last month.

The six nations seeking to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- have offered Tehran more generous incentives to suspend uranium-enrichment activities, including political pledges for "direct contact and dialogue," a greater Iranian role in world affairs, and refraining from threats of use of force against Iran.

The latest diplomatic package restores inducements Washington had kept out of an offer in 2006 and signals the growing importance of political prestige in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.

-- Glenn Kessler

Offer by France, Germany and Britain (August 2005):

· The nations "stress the importance of developing relations of trust and cooperation.

· The nations would "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

· The nations "would welcome an expanded dialogue and relationship" on regional security.

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