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Rice confirms policy shift on Iran

Latest update : 2008-07-18

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that the US has modified its position on diplomacy with Iran. Asked about the decision to send a senior envoy to talks in Geneva, Rice said "the US doesn't have any permanent enemies".

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Friday confirmed that the United States had shifted its position on diplomacy with Iran, with the decision to send a senior envoy to Geneva to participate in nuclear talks with Iran's top negotiator.

"The United States doesn't have any permanent enemies," Rice said in response to a reporter's question on the unexpected move to send a diplomat to meet directly with Iran's negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva on Saturday.

"And we hope this signal we're sending, that we fully support the track that Iran could take for a better relationship with the international community, is one the United States stands fully behind."

"We have been very clear that any country can change course," Rice added.

"This decision to send Undersecretary (William) Burns is an affirmation of the policy that we have been pursuing with our European allies ... for some time now."

"It is, in fact, a strong signal to the entire world that we have been very serious about this diplomacy and we will remain very serious about this diplomacy."

Rice pointed out that she had endorsed the proposal from the so-called P5 plus one -- the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany -- on incentives to advance talks with Iran on halting its nuclear program.

She called sending Burns to Geneva to meet with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana the "book end" to that move, to receive Tehran's response.

"But it should be very clear to everyone the United States has a condition for the beginning of negotiations with Iran, and that condition remains the verifiable suspension of Iran's enrichment and reprocessing activities," Rice said.

"We will see what happens on Saturday. But that will be the message that Bill Burns will be delivering."

Date created : 2008-07-18