Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Pacific News Service > News > Bush's New Year's Message Torpedoed U.S.-Iranian Rapprochement

Pacific News Service > News > Bush's New Year's Message Torpedoed U.S.-Iranian Rapprochement: "Bush's New Year's Message Torpedoed U.S.-Iranian Rapprochement
Commentary, William O. Beeman,
Pacific News Service, Jan 05, 2004
Editor's Note: Iran's rejection of a U.S. humanitarian visit clearly came about due largely to an offhand and baseless remark by President Bush, the writer says. Now, two countries that should be seeking improved relations are back to square one.

In one ill-chosen, offhand remark on New Year's Day, President Bush undercut the immediate possibility of improved relations with Iran, savaging the efforts of his own State Department.

It seemed that Washington was at last doing something positive for American-Iranian relations in the wake of the terrible human tragedy of the earthquake in Bam, Iran. The State Department was poised to sponsor a blue-ribbon humanitarian visit by relief experts headed by former Red Cross director, now U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).

In his remarks on the Bam tragedy, President Bush first praised his own administration for its compassion. Then he knocked the Iranians on the head. 'The Iranian government must listen to the voices of those who long for freedom, must turn over Al Qaeda (members) that are in their custody and must abandon their nuclear weapons program,' Bush said.

The Iranians thanked the United States for its concern, and then rejected the humanitarian visit, saying that such an event was 'premature.'

There is no doubt that President Bush's remarks were the prime reason for the rejection of the humanitarian visit when one examines the reactions of Iranian officials as reported by London's Financial Times and other press sources on Jan. 5. The Iranians immediat"

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