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DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: Mr. Solana from the European Union has an already scheduled meeting with the Iranians to get their response to the incentives package that we provided to them about a month ago, and Undersecretary Burns from the State Department will attend that meeting.

CARLO BASILONE (VOICEOVER): In a dramatic turn, the Bush administration is sending a top diplomat, Undersecretary of State William Burns, to weekend talks with Iran’s nuclear envoy without Iran having first halted its nuclear enrichment program. It will be the first time such a high-ranking US official has attended such talks. The meeting will be held on Saturday in Geneva by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili. The White House denies an all-out policy shift.

PERINO: There is no negotiation here. We are going there. Undersecretary Burns will be there as a part of the international community, showing our unison that we are going to provide two paths for the Iranians from which to choose: one, that they could accept the incentives package, and then, if it’s verified that they have halted their uranium enrichment, then there will be negotiations.

BASILONE: Under discussion will be a proposal by the P5+1—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—of a package of incentives offered to Iran on a condition that it halts uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to generate electricity or make a nuclear weapon. But Iran insists that it has a right to an enrichment program under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged western countries to observe the Islamic Republic’s limits on the nuclear issue.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, IRAN’S SUPREME LEADER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We have conspicuous red lines in our nuclear program. If the parties to the negotiations respect the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic’s stature and also observe these red lines, our country’s officials will negotiate with them on the condition that no one should threaten us. The Iranian nation is sensitive toward threat. I say it clearly, that if anyone commits idiocy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, the practical response of the Islamic Republic will be a crushing response.

BASILONE: Saturday’s meeting will come at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, after Iranian missile tests last week in response to threatening Israeli warplane maneuvers in June. Investigative historian and military policy analyst Gareth Porter believes that the White House may be changing its message.

GARETH PORTER, MILITARY POLICY ANALYST: I think, essentially, it is the dawning of the realization within the Bush White House that he’s got to do something other than just threaten Iran or, you know, talk about the military threat being on the table, the military option being on the table, simply because it’s not going to work. Let’s face it: we’re still in the stage of talks about talks. This is a preliminary stage—it does not mean that the Bush administration is about to drop its demand. But what Solana is hoping and I think what the Iranians are hoping is that there can be some creative talks here that have to do with a kind of new proposal—not a new proposal, but putting on the table an existing proposal that has to do with a compromise on your enrichment in Iran, but enrichment that would have western countries in firm control, in a way that would give them assurances against using any of the fuel rods or the results of the enrichment for the use of a bomb program. That’s really the hope of it.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Gareth Porter is a historian and investigative journalist on US foreign and military policy analyst. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service on US policy towards Iraq and Iran. Author of four books, the latest of which is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.