US keen on engaging Iran despite its domestic crisis

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Washington, July 6 (ANI): President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have said in separate interviews that they will not be deterred from engaging Iran diplomatically in spite of the political crisis in that country.

In an interview with The New York Times, a day before his scheduled departure for Moscow on Sunday, Obama acknowledged that the arrests and intimidation of Iran's opposition leaders, but insisted, that the repression would not close the door on negotiations with the Iranian government.We've got some fixed national security interests in Iran not developing nuclear weapons, in not exporting terrorism, and we have offered a pathway for Iran to rejoining the international community," Obama said.

Biden told the ABC News program "This Week that the United States could not order Israel not to strike the plants at the heart of Iran's nuclear program if Israeli leaders determined "that they're existentially threatened" by the prospect that Iran would gain nuclear weapons capability.

Before Iran's disputed election on June 12, the president's top aides said they received back-channel indications from Iran - from emissaries who claimed to represent the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - that the country would respond to Obama's overtures this summer.

The Obama administration is preparing for two opposite possibilities: One in which the Iranian leadership seeks to regain a measure of legitimacy by taking up Obama's offer to talk a situation that could put Washington in the uncomfortable position of giving credibility to a government whose actions Obama has deplored - or one in which Iran rejects negotiations.

Obama said the United States now had more leverage to pressure Iran because he had succeeded in getting "countries like Russia and China to take these issues seriously," noting that both had approved stricter sanctions on North Korea.

Israeli officials have been deeply uncomfortable with Obama's engagement offer, arguing that Iran is still adding centrifuges to its plant at Natanz, where it can enrich uranium.

The last report of the International Atomic Energy Agency indicated roughly 7,000 centrifuges are now enriching uranium into fuel, but without further enrichment is suitable only for nuclear power. (ANI)

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