Iran: to talk or not to talk

(If the US chose to open up dialogue with Iran, where would it begin?) The stakes are so high in terms of Iran's role in the Middle East, this will require a carefully constructed dialogue. Iran is the craftiest of negotiators in the Middle East. (Where would one begin?) the main decision that has to be made is in any strategic dialogue with Iran, we should put everything on the table. This deals with our attitudes towards the Iranian regime, regime change up front�that's one major decision. (Does McCain or Obama or Clinton support regime change and can you come clean with that?) That's a fundamental decision. There is a formula you can use which can be effective, which is that the US is seeking a change in attitudes that can be measured. So we're not for regime change but a change in attitude. It's not semantics, it's saying the US is ready to have a high-level dialogue and the measuring yard is going to be if there can be a change in behavior in areas that give us concern. The nuclear issue has to be part of a strategic dialogue. (So is the promise of well thought out talks leverage?) Yes, they are very much seeking that relationship with the US. We at times make the mistake in making Iran into a superpower. It is an important regional power, it is not akin to the former Soviet Union. (Can the US do any realistic bargaining with a man like Iran's President?) It looks improbable but he does have a political base in Iran, but that's not the only political base in Iran, and the Ayatollah is the key decision maker.

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