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The Miracle of Vienna

Something happened in Vienna that could possibly and hopefully avert a threatened war.

Talks around Iran's Nuclear Program

By Knut Meilenthin

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 9/12/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.jungewelt.de/2006/09-12/040.php?print=1.]

Is there actually movement in the conflict over the Iranian nuclear program? Did a little miracle occur in the talks between Javier Solana and Ali Laridschani in Vienna? The European Union official responsible for foreign policy and the Iranian negotiator in the nuclear conflict really wanted to meet on Wednesday of last week. The meeting was postponed unexpectedly presumably because they could not agree on the definition of the meeting. Should it be a dialogue, a discussion or even a negotiation as the Iranians wanted? The EU did not officially want negotiation as long as Iran had not previously and indefinitely stopped all the works connected with uranium enrichment. The EU follows Washington's leadership, even if European politicians have more and more doubts.

What happened in Vienna was a conversation, at most a discussion. But what previously appeared merely as a sense of duty of the EU in the diplomatic tug-of-rope around UN sanctions took a surprising turn this week. Solana and Laridschani met for seven hours on Sunday, an unusually long time for two men who are in constant telephone contact so the last connecting link between the EU and Iran would not break. They came from the first conversation and declared unanimously: our conversation was very constructive and full of progress. They came from the second conversation and told the media essential uncertainties and misunderstandings were cleared away. They will meet again this week in a dialogue, perhaps even a discussion.

Officially negotiations have not yet occurred. Rather the question is still what Iranian concessions could make savory the Europeans' return to the negotiating table that they abandoned last August. These concessions must satisfy the EU governments or at least let them save face and on the other side are acceptable in Iran.

Some anonymous diplomats claim Laridschani offered to stop uranium enrichment for two months to create a positive negotiation climate. This may nor may not be true and will certainly not satisfy the US government. Still something happened in Vienna that could possibly and hopefully avert a threatened war.

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