IRANIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS SPURN INVITATION TO WHITE HOUSE. Leading Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji is sitting on something many people would only dream of: a personal invitation to the White House today to meet with top U.S. officials overseeing the United States policy toward Iran, including the National Security Council�s Elliot Abrams and State Department�s Iran nuclear negotiator Nicholas Burns. It's even been dangled before him that President Bush may drop by the afternoon meeting of Iranian opposition activists. But Iran's most famous former political prisoner, who arrived in Washington earlier this week for a month long U.S. tour after six years in Iranian prison says, while tempted, he's not going to accept the invitation.
Mark Perry is co-director of the Conflicts Forum, a Beirut-based nongovernmental organization that has, over the past three years, put former senior American and British policy-makers and intelligence officials in talks with Hezbollah and other militant political Islamic groups in Lebanon. He formerly worked as an adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and as a reporter for Newsday. Perry has recently returned from Beirut and is now in Arlington, Virginia. Laura Rozen interviewed him by telephone Friday about the unfolding crisis in Lebanon and Israel.
So explain what your group, Conflicts Forum, is about and under what auspices you have been having a dialogue with Hezbollah
When Nick Schwellenbach went down to the House of Representatives' legislative resource center in May to look into the widening Duke Cunningham corruption probe, he noticed a couple of other visitors at a neighboring table -- a man and a woman, both crisply dressed, who were getting attentive service from the office staff.
After six years of the Bush administration often resisting calls for pragmatism and compromise from allies and home-grown foreign policy realists alike, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's dramatic announcement Wednesday that the United States would agree to join European-led talks with Iran if Tehran would suspend its uranium enrichment had the power of shock and awe -- if perhaps as short a half-life.
The day after Rice's stunning announcement, sophisticated Iran watchers wonder if Washington and Tehran will ever get to the same negotiating table, or if hardliners have so realigned the decision-making environments in the two countries that they are set on a course towards eventual confrontation that has only just experienced an interesting speed bump.
In this ancient city, just as in Washington, the origins of the infamous Niger yellowcake forgeries -- the documents purporting to prove that Iraq was contracting to purchase vast quantities of uranium and cited by George W. Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address as a pretext for war -- continue to bemuse political observers. So often do such intelligence scandals erupt and recede in the operatic world of Italian politics that the public knows the surface story is almost never the truth -- especially with a hard-fought election campaign scheduled to conclude in April.