Turkey Ready to Mediate Between Iran, US

A01918643.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced his country’s preparedness to mediate between the new Obama administration and Iran.

Erdogan stressed that Obama’s election as the new US president has created new opportunities for a shift in relations between the US and Iran.

US President-elect Barack Obama had declared during his election campaign that he would consider holding talks with Iran without preconditions.

“We are ready to be the mediator… I do believe we could be very successful,” Erdogan said, the New York Times reported.

“We watch the relations between Iran and the US with great concern,” he added. “We expect such issues to be resolved at the table. Wars are never solutions in this age.”

Erdogan also offered Obama some advice: “Maintain the steadiness of your spine, but don’t engage in fights.”

Turkey argues that it in a unique position to mediate between Tehran and Washington as it is a NATO member and a Muslim country with close cultural ties with Iran.

Turkey also secured a seat at the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member last month.

Earlier this month, Erdogan voiced strong opposition against Bush’s foreign policy on the Middle-East. In an apparent reference to Washington’s Middle East policy, he described Washington’s policy for Isolating Iran and Syria as “a misguided strategy”.

“Dialogue between countries in the region is better than pressure from outside,” he said, delivering an opening speech at the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia.

Nations in the region could likely find solutions to Middle East conflict and tensions in Iraq by working together and without external pressure, Erdogan said.

In August, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that Ankara would not be influenced by others in its relations with neighbors. Gul described the expansion of regional ties as natural, saying that “for Turkey what other countries think is of no importance.”

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, saying that renouncing its rights under the NPT would encourage world powers to put further pressure on the country and would not lead to a change in the West’s hardline stance on Tehran.

Analysts believe that the US is at loggerheads with Iran due mainly to the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military action against Iran seems to be completely irrational.

Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns – the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US – to the latest round of Iran-West talks happened after Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

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