Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mixed Signals on Iran.

One day the Bush administration is bashing Iran, pushing U.N. Security Council sanctions, cutting off its credit, arresting its nationals and sending more warships into the Persian Gulf. Then, practically the next day it seems, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is announcing plans for U.S. and Iranian diplomats to meet in Baghdad to discuss cooperating to quell the carnage in Iraq.

Mixed messages? For sure. But that's not by accident. It's just a new take on the classic carrot-and-stick diplomatic strategy, in which contradictions are at the core of the U.S. Iran strategy.

"It is a message of pressure and possibility," says a senior U.S. official. "We're trying to keep up the pressure but also hold open the possibility of constructive dialogue, if they meet the conditions."

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