06/13/2019, 20.04
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More than 200 Iranian political and civil society activists call for unconditional talks with the US

The signatories, at home and abroad, call for détente with regional powers and the United States. Dialogue does not imply surrender and can help prevent a war that no one wants. Abe's visit comes at the right time to revive talks. Japan plans to continue buying Iranian oil, despite US sanctions.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – More than 200 Iranian political and civil society activists, inside and outside Iran, have signed an appeal, calling on the Iranian government to engage in unconditional talks with the United States.

The signatories stress that most Iranians want détente with regional (i.e. Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf nations) and world powers, above all the United States, with whom it is engaged a tug-of-war over its nuclear programme, weapons and influence in the Middle East.

Rising tensions between Iran and the United States are monopolising the international agenda and remain a source of fear among major world capitals.

US-Iranian tension were triggered by US President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ​​agreed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, which was followed by the toughest sanctions in history against Iran.

Since then, Washington has boosted its military presence in the region, whilst trying to curtail Iran’s oil exports.

In their letter, the 225 signatories criticise the foreign policies of both the United states and its Saudi ally. At the same time, they want to move international public opinion and independent organisations to call upon Iranian and US authorities to reduce tensions and hold unconditional talks

A few days ago, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejected an offer for talks, albeit with conditions, by US President Donald Trump, calling it “poisonous”. For Khamenei, "When the enemy bullies you, if you take a step back, he will come forward. To prevent enemies from transgressing, you should resist.” In fact, "Surrender is much more costly than resistance."

Responding to Khamenei's remark, the Iranian activists have insisted that holding talks does not mean surrendering. "Unconditional talks between the two sides of a dispute could have different aims, including crisis management, preventing unwanted wars, and playing with the real existing cards," the signatories to the statement said. For them, rejecting an offer for talks, a serious one especially, will allow other powers to turn against Iran.

The visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first time by a Japanese prime minister in 40 years, provides an opportunity to turn the page and start a new course based on mediation.

The signatories of the appeal include Qom religious leader Ahmad Montazeri, lawmaker and activist Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, Franco-Iranian sociologist Azadeh Kian, intellectual Behrouz Bayat, Kurdish-Iranian politician Jalal Jalalizadeh and human rights lawyer and activist Mehrangiz Kar.

The chairman of the Majlis' (Iranian Parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Hashmatollah Falahat Pisheh, also urged negotiations with Washington via the good offices of third parties, like Qatar or Iraq, to prevent some parties from pushing the two countries into a war.

For its part, Japan plans to continue to buy Iranian oil, despite US sanctions, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Abe on the first day of the latter’s official visit to the Islamic Republic.

“Iran will remain committed to the deal, which is important for the security of the region and the world,” said Rouhani, adding that Tehran "will remain bound by the nuclear agreement, which is important for the security of the region and the world".

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