If we were to read between the lines of an exchange during a State Dept. daily press briefing, Wed. Dec. 12, 2012, then the U.S., through our European allies, are busy trying to get bilateral, face to face negotiations going with the Iranians, over Iran’s nuclear program.
As was the case with the North Korean negotiations over the past decade plus, the Jury is out on which works better in the end, group talks or US-only face-to-facers. If anything, the Korean example seems to prove that neither approach really works if the other side is comprised of habitual liars hell bent on destroying us.
That aside, pay attention to the ease with which State’s Spokesperson Victoria Nuland glides into the possibility of bilateral talks with Iran.
Nuland took a question on Israeli reports that the Administration is looking to pursue direct talks with Iran over the next four or five months and is doing so without asking Israel’s permission.
NULAND: I haven’t seen those Israeli reports. What I can tell you is that the European Union has just made clear that earlier today, EU Deputy Secretary General Helga Schmid, who is Cathy Ashton’s deputy, had a phone call with the Iranian deputy negotiator Dr. Bagheri in order to discuss the way ahead, including possible dates and venues for another [P-5+1] plus Iran meeting. So we continue to make clear to the Iranian side that in that structure, the door remains open to talks if they are serious.
QUESTION: In the premise of the question, there was the idea that … you would have unilateral talks with the Iranians without the Israelis’ permission. I’m wondering … does the Administration think that it needs to get Israel’s permission to do that?
NULAND: …In the context … of P-5+1 Iran talks, we’d be prepared to meet bilaterally with Iran. The Israelis are well aware that that is our view and that is the way we would pursue it. So it’s not a matter of permission or not permission. They are our ally and partner, and we consult with them regularly, and we’re completely transparent in terms of how we’re trying to proceed here.
QUESTION: … But you wouldn’t ask for their permission, would you? Even if it was outside the P-5+1 context … does this Administration need to ask Israel for permission to … to talk with any other country in the world, including Iran?
NULAND: Again, Israel is our ally. Israel has an existential interest in the way this goes forward. We are very transparent with Israel on how this goes forward. So I don’t even think that scenario would arise one way or the other.
QUESTION: Well, can you just say that the Administration – that this country doesn’t ask permission from Israel to have talks with any countries —
MS. NULAND: I would say that this country doesn’t ask permission from any other country to act. Okay?