Tuesday, March 03, 2009

clinton bearish on iran

Washington Post | Clinton "said she is doubtful that Iran will respond to any kind of engagement and opening the hand out and reaching out to them," said a senior State Department official, who requested anonymity because he was describing a closed-door conversation.

Clinton made the remarks in a meeting with Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, during an international donors' conference for Gaza at this Red Sea resort.

Nahayan told Clinton he was worried the administration would cut a deal with Iran without properly consulting with Persian Gulf allies, the U.S. official said. "We will be consulting with regional leaders and listening," the official quoted Clinton as saying in response. "She said we are under no illusions about Iran and our eyes are wide open.

Clinton last week named veteran diplomat Dennis Ross as her special adviser for the Gulf and Southwest Asia -- largely a euphemism for Iran. Ross has written that if an overture to Iran were not reciprocated, it would strengthen the United States' efforts to stiffen international sanctions intended to pressure Iran to end its nuclear program. Iran says it is developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but the United States, Israel and other countries are worried that the country seeks to build nuclear weapons.

Persian Gulf allies have become increasingly alarmed by Tehran's growing regional power during the Bush years, helped by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its one-time rival, and the growing strength of Iranian-backed movements such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.