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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BERLIN165
2009-02-10 14:40:00
SECRET//NOFORN
Embassy Berlin
Cable title:  

READOUT OF STEINMEIER-LARIJANI DISCUSSIONS

Tags:   PREL  KNNP  GM  IR 
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O 101440Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3257
INFO IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 
USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
IRAN RPO DUBAI PRIORITY
USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
						S E C R E T BERLIN 000165 


NOFORN

P, NEA/FO, NEA/IR, EUR/FO, EUR/CE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2019
TAGS: PREL KNNP GM IR
SUBJECT: READOUT OF STEINMEIER-LARIJANI DISCUSSIONS

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires John M. Koenig for reasons 1.4(b)/(d)



1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: According to German MFA Political
Director Stanzel, German FM Steimeier pressed Iran to drop
its backward-looking approach and accept the U.S.'s new,
sincere willingness for dialogue in his February 6 meeting
with Iranian Majles Speaker Ali Larijani on the margins of
the Munich Security Conference. Larijani was initially
skeptical, citing Iranian uncertainty about U.S. sincerity
and a lack of details about U.S. intentions. During the
conversation, Larijani grew more constructive, citing
potential topics for discussion and conceding that direct
U.S.-Iranian contact is necessary. Larijani indicated that
while no formal decision had been taken as to who would
represent Iran in discussions, a leading role by the Iranian
Parliament (and himself as Parliamentary Speaker) was "very
possible." END SUMMARY.

STEINMEIER: IRAN ANSWERS NEW U.S. POLICY WITH OLD APPROACH



2. (S/NF) German MFA Political Director Volker Stanzel
provided PolOff a readout of Foreign Minister Frank Walter
Steinmeier's February 6 meeting with Iranian Majles Speaker
Ali Larijani on the margins of the Munich Security
Conference. According to Stanzel, who attended the meeting,
Steinmeier opened by complaining that Larijani's February 6
speech to the MSC plenary was far too backward-looking and
did not respond to the Obama Administration's overtures.
Steinmeier also criticized Larijani for aiming his speech at
an Iranian domestic audience rather than the international
community. As a consequence, the U.S. would "misunderstand"
the speech and interpret it as a negative response to
President Obama's expressed willingness for dialogue.
Steinmeier added that President Obama's position on potential
dialogue was a courageous move and urged the Iranians to
demonstrate a similar spirit of cooperation and friendship.
He added that President Obama's sincerity was clear, given
that President Obama had expressed this position during the
U.S. election campaign when there was nothing to gain. Take
Obama's lead and do something and stop applying your old
rhetoric to a new situation, Steinmeier pressed, and
encouraged the Iranians to start dialogue, as discussion is
necessary to de-escalate the current situation.

LARIJANI: U.S. SIGNALS MIXED, IRAN WANTS MORE DETAILS



3. (S/NF) Stanzel noted that Larijani was initially "overly
careful" to the point of negativity in the discussion, but
that Larijani,s responses evolved as the conversation
continued. We Iranians need to be careful, we are not sure
if we can believe the "so-called signals" because some near
President Obama have sent negative signals, Larijani said.
Larijani also posited, "What will the format of direct talks

be? With whom, where, how", adding "will (Israeli Foreign
Minister) Livni be talking?"



4. (S/NF) Steinmeier pressed Larijani, noting that it is
impossible to foresee or determine final results at the
beginning of the discussion; however, Iran can make its goals
and strategic perceptions clear, as well as provide more
information about its positions. Larijani replied that
problems between the U.S. and Iran are not easy to resolve
and will take time. Obama has talked about many things, not
always in a friendly tone, he said. But Larijani conceded to
Steinmeier that President Obama says he wants to listen.

LARIJANI CITES CONCRETE AREAS FOR DIALOGUE, IRANIAN
UNCERTAINTIES



5. (S/NF) Stanzel described Larijani's tone as growing
increasingly positive as the discussion progressed. Larijani
suggested developing a list of issues for the U.S. and Iran
to discuss and specifically cited Iranian property
confiscated by the United States Government as an example.
"We really need direct contact", said Larijani, noting that
Iran is willing to do this bilaterally with the U.S. or with
the P5 1 group. "Whatever you want to talk about, we are
willing to talk," he reportedly said, citing Iraq,
Afghanistan, energy, and the nuclear issue as areas for
discussion.



6. (S/NF) Steinmeier said that Iran must realize that the
most difficult step is the entry into talks, and warned
Larijani that the Iranian government's public language is
crucial. Steinmeier repeated that President Obama won the
U.S. election because the American people clearly want new
policies. Iran, on the other hand, is confronting the
American people with old policies. Iran needs to look into
the future and find a solution.



7. (S/NF) Larijani responded that Iran is still unsure.
They first thought that the U.S. "wants to play chess with
us," meaning enter into negotiations. But Larijani noted
Iranian mistrust towards some potential U.S. interlocutors,
claiming that American scholar and veteran diplomat Dennis
Ross talks "rough" and has "hard" positions, leaving Larijani
uncertain if Ross can follow up constructively. However, if
the U.S. tells Iran where and when they want to talk, Iran
can cooperate, he added.



8. (S/NF) When pressed by Steinmeier on who in the Iranian
government would be responsible for the negotiating lead,
Larijani replied that it was still undecided, but very
possible that the Parliament would take the lead.
Discussions must be step-by-step, starting at a lower level,
added Larijani. (COMMENT: A Parliamentary lead would likely
mean Larijani himself as the Majles speaker; Larijani also
remains a member of Iran's Supreme National Security
Council.)


Koenig