Five former US Secretaries of State say the next American administration should hold direct and unconditional talks with Tehran.
The five – Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, James Baker and Henry Kissinger – all said they favored talking to Iran as part of a strategy to break the impasse over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
The five US heavyweights from both Republican and Democratic administrations opted for diplomacy with the Islamic Republic while describing Washington’s military option against the country as ‘unsatisfactory’ and ‘very poor’.
Henry Kissinger, for his part stated that the United States should negotiate with Tehran government ‘without setting any conditions’. The former Nixon and Ford US Secretary of State stressed that the US should hold direct talks with Iran and that the next President should begin such negotiations at a high level.
Albright, Secretary of state in the President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1997-2001, said if she were secretary of state, she would begin the talks at the State Department level.
â€œYou need to engage with countries you have problems with. I believe we need to engage with Iran. I think the whole point is you try to engage and deal with countries that you have problems with,â€ she said.
“I agree with Madeleine, and I suspect my other colleagues, that we should try to talk to them.” said Powell, who worked for George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.
Christopher who worked for former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997 noted thatâ€œFrankly the military options here are very poor. We don’t want to go down that route.â€
Baker, who worked for former President George H.W. Bush — the current president’s father – also urged talks with Iranian officials.
Dealing with Iran has become an issue in the November US presidential election campaign, with Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain sparring over Obama’s stated readiness to talk to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other US adversaries if elected president.
Washington severed diplomatic ties with Tehran a short a while after the Islamic revolution toppled a US-backed dictator in the country. Tehran has also been under US sanctions after the revolution.