Iran Reformists Call for Direct Talks With U.S.

A group of 100 reformists and nationalist-religious activists, inside and outside Iran, have issued a statement, calling on the Islamic Republic to “take a courageous step towards solving the country’s political and economic problems by engaging in direct and unconditional talks with the U.S.”

The online news website Zeitoons ( published the full text of the statement on June 16.

The statement said: “People around the world have welcomed the 2018 North Korea-U.S. summit [held on June 12 in Singapore]. It showed that the majority of people support actions that result in establishing peace and security. It also proved that where there is a will, there is a way to resolve all conflicts.”

The signatories to the statement called for “direct and unconditional talks with the U.S. government,” and warned that “prolonged hostility would have severe consequences for Iran.”

“We must learn from the past to plan a better future,” the statement said.

Most of the signatories, irrespective of their political affiliations, had previously called for harsher policies against the U.S. The statement highlights the severe impact of the new set of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy and people.

The Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists of Iran (semi-opposition) and many in the reform movement were instrumental in preparing the nation for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s so-called “Heroic Flexibility,” a face-saving measure to justify the signing of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva January 14, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry engaged in direct talks during the JCPOA negotiations.

“Given the country’s dire economic situation and the volatile political climate in the region, it is necessary for the authorities to rethink domestic and foreign policies and reduce tensions between Iran and the U.S.,” the statement said.“We believe that the Iranian people and indeed the international community would support this initiative. Everyone knows that engaging in dialogue doesn’t mean accepting defeat. The Vietnamese were negotiating peace with the U.S. while the fighting went on.”

The signatories include Isa Saharkhiz (journalist), Gholamhossein Karbaschi (former Tehran mayor), Reza Alijani (journalist), Abdolali Bazargan (deputy head of Freedom Movement of Iran), Jamileh Kadivar (former member of the Iranian Parliament) and Ahmad Montazeri (son of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.) These individuals believe that “the talks will not compromise Iran’s national interest, and the country can pull out of the negotiations if the other party fails to fulfill its commitments.”

“We advocate any action that would improve people’s lives and protect our national interest. We support opening a dialogue with the U.S. which we believe will lead to peace and security for Iran and the entire region,” the statement concluded.

President Hassan Rouhani’s government was the first Iranian administration to enter into direct talks with the U.S. since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. But Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional ambitions have prevented Tehran and Washington from improving their relationship despite the JCPOA agreement.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]