The Reuters report on the trilateral talks made heavy references to last week’s revelation that President Obama had sent a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in mid-October offering to link the nuclear negotiations to the two countries’ simultaneous conflicts with Islamic State militants. The Obama administration has largely declined to comment on the letter in the context of the latest developments in negotiations.
The Wall Street Journal, which originally broke the story of the letter last week, discussed the letter in detail in its report regarding the current status of the nuclear talks. While conservatives and other critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy have roundly decried the letter as a strategic blunder and an instance of reaching out to a villain, the Wall Street Journal provides additional perspectives on it, including those coming from Iran.
The report points out that Khamenei’s office has never officially acknowledged that the letter was received, although a recent message on Khamenei’s website did make reference to it and to earlier letters, of which there have reportedly been three. Some in the Iranian government described the letter as a positive step for negotiations but others expressed typical suspicion of Washington, with Khamenei’s online message claiming that each previous letter has preceded anti-regime moves by the West.
If this pattern does exist and the latest letter is an example of it, it may be either a part of a larger Obama administration strategy or an attempt by that administration to reach out to Iran before a change of policy is forced by other elements of the American government. In this case those other elements would certainly be the Republicans who will be taking majority control of the Senate in the wake of last week’s elections.