Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion.

Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility.

But Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office rejected the plan, the official said.

The offers came in a letter, seen by Newsnight, which was unsigned but which the US state department apparently believed to have been approved by the highest authorities.

In return for its concessions, Tehran asked Washington to end its hostility, to end sanctions, and to disband the Iranian rebel group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and repatriate its members.

————

One of the then Secretary of State Colin Powell’s top aides told the BBC the state department was keen on the plan – but was over-ruled.

“We thought it was a very propitious moment to do that,” Lawrence Wilkerson told Newsnight.

“But as soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the Vice-President’s office, the old mantra of ‘We don’t talk to evil’… reasserted itself.”

Observers say the Iranian offer as outlined nearly four years ago corresponds pretty closely to what Washington is demanding from Tehran now. ~BBC News

Via The Plank

Apparently, the “old mantra” means “we don’t talk to evil even if the other side wants to give us almost everything we have wanted them to give us for 25 years.”  If confirmed, this decision would mark the most irredeemably stupid move this administration has made in foreign relations since the invasion of Iraq, and the competition for that dubious honour is quite stiff.

By the by, wouldn’t this report indicate that the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation to negotiate with Iran is potentially quite beneficial?  Granted, after three and a half years of dithering and needless confrontation, Tehran may no longer be interested in making this deal.  It would probably be worth finding out whether they were still interested.  That could possibly alleviate a number of problems.  Take Hizbullah, for example.  It would not disappear and would remain a significant force in Lebanese politics because of its indigenous base of support, but without millions in funding and continued Iranian supply of things such as advanced anti-tank technology, used to such powerful effect last summer, Hizbullah’s relative military strength would decline and its grip on Lebanon might weaken slightly.  That is the sort of thing anti-Iranian neocons and hegemonists are supposed to want.  Yet one of their champions rejected the offer that might have severed Hizbullah’s Iranian supply line. 

If Washington began to engage Syria as well, the other main source of Hizbullah support might dry up or could at least become weaker.  The administration willing to make an effort at rapprochement with both countries stands a decent chance of coming away with at least one, and possibly two, foreign policy coups.  Unfortunately, the current administration hasn’t the brains, vision or courage to attempt any such thing–indeed, if this story is true, they have already shown that they have lacked these things all along.