Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Obama Not Ruling Out Opening Embassy in Iran


"I never say never," says President Obama when asked whether he could envision opening an embassy in Iran.
First Publish: 12/30/2014, 5:12 AM

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama on Monday said he was not ruling out the possibility of reopening a U.S. Embassy in Iran, reports The Associated Press (AP).

Obama was asked in an NPR interview whether he could envision opening an embassy there during his final two years in office.

"I never say never," Obama said, adding that America’s ties with Tehran must be restored in steps.
Referring to Iran’s ongoing talks with the West about its nuclear program, the president said believes there's a chance the issue could be resolved.

“We have to get this nuclear issue resolved – and there's a chance to do it, and the question's going to be whether or not Iran is willing to seize it,” said Obama.

Iran and the United States ended their diplomatic ties in 1979, but Obama has taken a more conciliatory tone with the Islamic Republic. In November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describing their shared interested regarding Islamic State (ISIS).

In that letter, Obama wrote to Khamenei that cooperation on ISIS depends on an agreement being reached by the November 24 deadline regarding Iran's nuclear program.

The White House refused to comment on whether Obama had indeed sent such a letter, and would only reiterate that Washington’s policy toward Iran has not changed.

An Iranian official later confirmed that Obama had indeed sent letters to the Iranian leader, and said that some of the letters were replied to.

In contrast to Obama’s stance on Iran, Republicans in Congress have been pushing for further sanctions on Iran as a means of pressure to get it to abandon its nuclear aspirations.

On a visit to Israel on Saturday, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the new Republican-controlled Senate will vote on an Iran sanctions bill in January.

He said the bipartisan sanction legislation says, "If Iran walks away from the table, sanctions will be re-imposed. If Iran cheats regarding any deal that we enter to the Iranians, sanctions will be re-imposed."

Senators Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk were the lead sponsors of a bill introduced late last year to impose new sanctions on Iran if international negotiations on curbing its nuclear ambitions falter.

The bill was gaining momentum in Congress, but Obama lobbied hard against it and has more than once threatened to veto the bill if it passes.

Congressional lawmakers have warned Obama they will work to increase sanctions on Iran if the administration makes what they consider a bad deal over Tehran's nuclear program.


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