U.S. congressman says Obama should give diplomacy with Iran a real chance

TEHRAN – U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison believes that U.S. President Barack Obama should give negotiations with Iran a real chance and that stepping up sanctions against Iran will not resolve the dispute over its nuclear program.

The 50-year-old Democrat from Minnesota, who in 2006 was the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, made the remarks in an interview with Al-Monitor, which was published on Monday.

Asked if he believes in a diplomatic option vis-à-vis Iran, Ellison said, “I absolutely do. The U.S. never had real sustained negotiation with them. We had 17-18 years of intense economic hostility with them. We have been implementing sanctions for decades, but are willing to give negotiations only a few months. It doesn’t make sense. And particularly now, when (new Iranian president Hassan) Rohani has just been elected, on a platform of outreach, and Iranians voted for him, I hope that President Obama will give negotiations a real chance and that the U.S. Congress does not screw things up. The congressmen need to dig into the issue and be a little more serious.”

Commenting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that the Iranians are bluffing and buying time, Ellison said, “We have been saying this for over a decade. The bottom line is both American and Israeli intelligence say that Iran has not made a political decision to acquire a nuclear weapon. How many years have you been hearing that ‘next year Iran will cross the red line?’”

Asked if he would invite Rohani to the White House, Ellison said, “Yes, of course. But he might not come… But maybe we could meet in Oslo, in Istanbul. There are places to meet, but there needs to be the will to meet. The American people want a president who hates war and seeks peace, and uses war only to protect the American people.”

By Tehran Times


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