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Bush has no intention of talking to Iran: Powell

The former US secretary of state said there was reluctance on part of President Bush to his efforts to find ways to talk to Iran.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007 12:04 IST

While the Bush administration has insisted it has no intention of starting a war with Iran, a former United States Secretary of State claims President George W Bush never had any interest in negotiating with the Persian Gulf country.

Colin Powell told Newsweek that there was "reluctance" on part of President Bush to his efforts to find ways to talk to Iran.

"My position in the remaining year and half (of my term) was that we ought to find ways to restart talks with Iran... But there was a reluctance on the part of the president to do that," Powell said.

He also rejected claims that the efforts by him and his top aides to deal with Tehran and Damascus were "failures".

"I don't like the administration saying, 'Powell went, (Deputy Richard) Armitage went ... And (they) got nothing'. We got plenty," he said.

Powell stressed that it was not possible to negotiate when you tell the other side "Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start".

The magazine also quotes another former White House National Security director and Persian Gulf Affairs Hillary Mann as saying that some Bush advisers secretly want an "excuse to attack Iran".

"They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranian do something (America) would be forced to retaliate," she said.

It said that despite President Bush's "Axis of evil" speech, low-level meetings continued between both sides in Spring 2003.

That spring, Washington received a faxed two-page proposal from Tehran for comprehensive bilateral talks, Newsweek said.

The letter received a mixed reception with Powell and his deputy (Richard) Armitage, suspicious, it said.

Armitage told the magazine that he thought the letter represented creative diplomacy by the Swiss ambassador, Tim Guldimann, who was serving as a go-between.

"We couldn't determine what (in the proposal) was the Iranians' and what was the Swiss ambassador's," he said.

He said that his impression at the time was that the Iranians were trying to put too much on the table.

However, Mann now said that "I don't care if it originally came from Mars.

If the Iranians said it was fully vetted and cleared, then it could have been as important as the two-page document that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger received from Beijing in 1971 indicating Mao Zedong's interest in opening China.

Powell, for one, thinks Bush simply wasn't prepared to deal with a regime he thought should not be in power. He met fierce resistance to any overtures to Iran and its ally Syria."