There’s an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor from John Cooley that I agree with wholeheartedly:
The UN Security Council Saturday unanimously passed a resolution to sharpen sanctions against Iran for its presumed nuclear-weapons ambitions. This unanimity provides the West with an occasion for a bold new diplomatic initiative.
The US should propose a comprehensive, formal dialogue with Iran on nuclear matters that also covers all issues that have divided Washington and Tehran since the cleric-led revolution toppled America’s former ally, Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlevi, in 1979.
Before beginning such a dialogue, however, the top officials of the Bush administration should first agree among themselves and with congressional leaders on the discussion’s minimum aims – and the maximum concessions the West can offer.
There’s a substantial agenda for such talks including Iran’s nuclear program, Afghanistan, and old compensation claims. Agreements on the latter two could create a framework for negotiating an agreement on the first. Cooley concludes:
Despite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s inflammatory rhetoric, Iranians have shown in the past that they are usually amenable to solutions they find to be in their best strategic interest. Now is the time for the US and allies to rise to this opportunity for future Middle Eastern peace and face the challenge of difficult, but potentially fruitful peace diplomacy.