US Says Door Remains Open for Nuclear Talks With Iran
Top Obama administration officials say the door remains open for nuclear talks with Iran. They are discounting the latest anti-American rhetoric from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The ongoing post-election turmoil in Iran has raised questions about the outlook for diplomacy to deal with Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Appearing on the CBS television program Face the Nation, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice indicated the Iranian nuclear program remains a matter of high concern for the White House.
"We have an interest in any case in trying to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapons capability," said Rice. "We have pursued that through multi-lateral diplomacy. We have left the door open to bilateral diplomacy."
On NBC's Meet the Press, President Obama's top advisor, David Axelrod, said the administration remains open to attending talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
He was asked if the tough talk over the weekend by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be enough to put diplomacy on hold.
"Understand that he is not the decision maker when it comes to foreign policy and defense policy in Iran," he said. "His comments are meant for domestic political content."
Iran's president has accused the United States of meddling in his country's affairs. Axelrod said he is merely trying to change the subject.
"It is a long used technique in Iran to try to make the United States the foil for their own problems," said Axelrod. "His problems are with the Iranian people, not with us!"
The election dispute in Iran is dominating headlines as American troops near a deadline for pulling out of major cities in neighboring Iraq.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno told the Fox News Sunday television program that Iraqis are keeping a close watch on events across the border.
"It gives them more confidence in their government, in the fact they just went through legitimate and credible elections to elect their provincial leaders, and the fact they are going to go through a credible and legitimate election here for their national leaders in January," said Odiorno.
Odierno noted that, unlike Iran, international observers will be in Iraq to validate those elections. And he said the unfolding events in Iran may serve to encourage Iraqis to bolster their young democracy.