A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Gives Interview with Israel Radio; Rare Optimsm in Geneva?

I've  been hanging around the Middle East far too long to indulge in unbridled optimism, or even bridled optimism, but the Rouhani phenomenon continues to surprise: Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi gave an interview with Israel Radio:
“Any agreement reached will open new horizons in [our] relations with all states,” Araqchi told Israel Radio reporter Gideon Kutz. Araqchi also responded with a “Yes” when Kutz asked him whether Israel would be able to live in peace with whatever deal would be reached between Western powers and the Islamic Republic.
Kutz told The Times of Israel by phone from Geneva that he was wearing an Israel Radio press badge when he interviewed the Iranian official, and that “the nature of my questions” made his identity as an Israeli journalist obvious to Araqchi. If so, Araqchi’s readiness to answer questions from an Israeli journalist is highly unusual; Iranian officials routinely avoid all open contact with the Israeli media.
First, Rosh Hashanah greetings, now this. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't around anymore, whatever else you make of this, and we already have heard Netanyahu call Rouhani a wolf in sheep's clothing.

But the news coming out of Geneva is also positive, with both sides expressing optimism that it may be possible to make progress on the nuclear issue, despite many lingering obstacles. Nobody should minimize those obstacles, but it's the first positive news in a long time,

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