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Foreign Policy

First and Encouraging Step in US-Iran Relations

Oct 07 , 2013
  • Wu Sike

    Member on Foreign Affairs Committee, CPPCC

The telephone conversation between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on September 27, the first direct talk between heads of the two states in more than three decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, marked a “historic breakthrough” in the US-Iranian relations. The telephone talk, widely considered to be the beginning of a shift from a “cold war” confrontation to an “ice-breaking” process, has become a focal point of worldwide attention. As a prelude to this telephone conservation, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, had face-to-face talks on the Iranian nuclear issue one day earlier at the United Nations, and their talks were then the highest-level contact between the two countries in more than 30 years. When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly, he pledged that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Rouhani also impressed the world with his distinctive approach, including a series of charm offensives such as extending New Year greetings to the Jewish people and publishing articles in US newspapers. This differentiated him from his predecessor. 

Wu Sike

The regional and world situation is undergoing significant changes. Under extensive Iranian diplomatic initiatives, global attention is now turning to the “ice-breaking” development in the US-Iranian relations, and the world pins high hope on such moves. All the changes could be attributed to the goodwill of the Iranian people for improving relations with other countries and regions. At the same time, the changes also came at a time when the United States needs to ease its long-term tense relations with Iran amid its global strategic adjustments and economic recovery. Moreover, it is a trend of the history to replace confrontation with dialogue, and it is in best interest of all parties concerned. 

As a saying goes, the first, and every step, counts for a long journey. For the United States and Iran, there is still a long way to go before they can embark on a road of cooperation, instead of confrontation. It will call for goodwill and efforts from both countries to let the United States and the Western countries to discard their “Iran threat theory” and to abandon the cold war mentality. It also calls on Iran to change its ways so as to integrate into and cooperate with the rest of the world and to adopt a “people first” policy if it wants to put an end to the confrontational and mutual-interference approach. On the other hand, all countries in the world should face up to their international responsibilities, give ultimate priority to the benefits and wellbeing of the people, and defend the doctrines of international relations and the lasting peace of the world. On the Middle East regional issues such as the Iran nuclear issue, the Syria crisis and the Israel-Palestine issue, the international community should make more contributions, seek more consensuses and work together to promote the trend of settling disputes through political means and to promote peace and development in the region. 

In the ancient Persian Empire, there was a kind of horse, named the Caspian Sea horse, which was said able to travel a thousand miles in a single day, and was therefore reputed as the “king of all horses” by Darius the Great. In Iran today, the spirit of the Caspian Sea horse is probably needed to win trust from the world with its astonishing speed and power. Iran said it hopes to reach agreement on the nuclear issue with big powers in three to six months, and expressed its hope that the “Tehran agreement on nuclear issue” will be the beginning for an eased US-Iranian relation. In a letter “It Is Now Your Turn” jointly written by about 500 Iranian intellectuals and public figures to US President Obama, they asked Obama to believe that Iran is changing and asked him to trust Rouhani. For the United States, it has seen a substantial change in Iran after 34 years of tense US-Iran relations, and the United States is both hopeful and cautious about such changes. 

No doubt, it is the common desire of the Americans and Iranians to properly settle the Iranian nuclear issue and to repair US-Iran relations. This author believes that in the contemporary world in which political multipolarization and economic globalization are the trends, it calls for extensive dialogue and cooperation in seeking solutions to common issues of the world. “It is the way of heaven not to strive, and yet it skillfully overcomes.” Such philosophical and cultural conceptions as “harmony”, “benevolence” and “nature” are of historical and practical value and are the important cultural factors promoting world peace and development. Dao De Jing (Scripture of Ethics) by Lao Tzu has the following verses: “The highest excellence is like that of the water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things.” “There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it.” These lines expound the nature of peace and the philosophy of a harmonious world with the coexistence of the “weakest” and the “strongest”. In today’s world, peace, development and cooperation have become the trends, and the lofty cause of the mankind will have to move forward. 

The Chinese side is greatly pleased to see the “ice-breaking” development in the US-Iranian relations, and welcomes such changes. China has always called for peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation, urged all parties concerned to promote dialogue with pragmatic attitudes in seeking mutually beneficial and win-win solutions, and called for creating conditions for comprehensive, long-term and proper settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. The “ice-breaking” development in the US-Iranian relations is an important and encouraging move in peacefully solving the Iranian nuclear issue. It took more than 30 years for the two sides to take the first step, and this is really hard-won progress and the two sides should value it and continue to work towards this direction. For the purpose of regional and world peace and stability, China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting dialogue on the Iranian nuclear issue. 

Wu Sike is a member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and member on the Foreign Policy Consulting Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affair.

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