James Forsyth

Dress down diplomacy

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Sadly direct talks between Iran and the United States won’t persuade Tehran to stop causing trouble in Iraq or halt work on its nuclear programme. Indeed, I think the mantra that Iran and the West share interests in Iraq is rather naïve. If the Iranians want a stable Iraq, as we are so often reassured, they certainly have a funny way of showing it. But equally, there’s little harm in talking as long as you don’t give away the shop while doing it. The Americans also have to show that they have gone the extra mile for peace if they’re going to have any hope of preserving the current coalition against Tehran when push comes to shove.

This snippet from the LA Times, flagged up by TNR, indicates that negotiating with Iran will be far from simple, though.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki briefly exchanged pleasantries during the summit, but a much-anticipated meeting between the two during dinner was thwarted when Mottaki walked out early, allegedly disturbed by a female violinist's dress that the Islamist found too revealing.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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