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Were the negotiations a serious attempt at diplomacy?

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The Real News interviews Babak Yektafar of Washington Prism, who thinks the Iranians are viewing the negotiations in a more optimistic light with regards to future diplomacy. While acknowledging that talks are a step in the right direction, Yektafar thinks that the efforts made by Washington (appearance of Undersecretary Burns in Geneva) were mostly insincere. Excerpt:

BABAK YEKTAFAR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WASHINGTONPRISM.ORG: Well, I think what happened, unfortunately, is that negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program basically got hijacked by the presence of Mr. William Burns from State Department and all this talk and hype, essentially, about the future of Iran-US relations.

BASILONE: Before these meetings Iran was kind of in the driver’s seat. They forced the US to come to Geneva and meet them, even though they hadn’t stopped enrichment. But after these meetings, there could be the interpretation that now the US is in the driver’s seat, ’cause they can say, “See? We showed up, and you still didn’t change your tune.”

YEKTAFAR: But, you see, that’s the problem. Again, showing up at a meeting is not necessarily, you know, a way to have any kind of constructive negotiation that can lead to something that both countries will feel comfortable. But to do it in such a way that, you know, one member shows up and insists that they’re there not to negotiate, but to just sit as an observer, and then, right away, as soon as the meeting is over, we’re back, you know, to all the rhetoric and all that. In all honesty, I have to say that, watching the Iranian media and reading the Iranian media, I’ve seen more positive approach and pleasant approach from the Iranians than I’ve seen from the Americans. I still see it as some sort of a publicity stunt, that, hey, we showed up, then nothing happened. But, really, by just showing up, you expect things to change and happen overnight? I don’t know. The problem between the United States and Iran is not just the nuclear program. We’re talking about 30 years of animosity between the two countries and a number of different issues between the two countries that really needs to be resolved. I mean, it says a lot that just because Undersecretary Burns showed up at this meeting the whole world was making so much of it, because I think the whole world, essentially, has gotten tired of this animosity between the two countries.

Irancove @ July 23, 2008

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