Slavin: Former Iran nuclear negotiator’s memoir recounts 2011 outreach to US envoy

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In her report on the new memoir of former Iran nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian, my colleague Barbara Slavin reports this scooplet: Iran, in February 2011, invited US Af-Pak envoy Marc Grossman to Iran to discuss a variety of issues.

Alas, as Slavin reports, it turned out to be yet another US-Iran diplomatic encounter not to be:

At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Tuesday (June 5), Mousavian said he believes that Obama was sincere in efforts to restart diplomacy in 2009 and that Ahmadinejad has also evolved over time. According to Mousavian, Ahmadinejad wants talks with the US on a variety of issues. In February 2011, Mousavian said, Iran asked Marc Grossman, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, to pay an official visit to Iran to discuss Afghanistan.

“They were going to open another door,” Mousavian said of the offer, but “the US declined.”

Asked about this, a senior US official told Al-Monitor that an offer emerged from Iranians taking part in so-called Track II discussions with former US officials, including former US ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner.

Grossman responded “through the same channel that he could not go but would be delighted to see an Iranian representative to talk about Afghanistan in Kabul,” the senior official said. Iran did not follow up, added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was describing confidential diplomatic communications.

It has been the pattern of US-Iran relations that when one side is ready to move, the other is not and vice versa. On both sides, domestic politics frequently inhibit progress, with hard-liners quick to pounce on perceived naïveté or “excessive” concessions.

Mousavian says the key is to improve US-Iran relations, however hard that is to envision at this time. …

It’s worth noting Tehran’s invite to Grossman came just a couple weeks after international-Iran nuclear talks broke down in Istanbul in January 2011 (and didn’t resume again until some 15 months later).

Read her piece.