Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kissinger Calls for Dialogue Between US, Iran


A former U.S. secretary of state is urging his government to open talks with Iran over its nuclear programs. Henry Kissinger, who made the comments in a New Delhi, is regarded as a hardliner when it comes to U.S. security interests. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Indian capital.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger calls on Washington to negotiate with Tehran concerning the suspected Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons.

"If there are any representatives of the American Embassy here they may be unhappy with me," he said. "I personally believe that America should be prepared to negotiate with Iran on that subject."

In a speech in New Delhi Tuesday, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate added that the international community has an obligation, if Iran agrees to talks, to prevent the danger of nuclear proliferation.

The United States, France and Britain favor tougher sanctions if Tehran does not comply with United Nations demands to halt certain nuclear activities. China and Russia oppose sanctions.

Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and other governments accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon.

Kissinger, who served as secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations, told business leaders and diplomats that his visit to India is not connected to a controversial India-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement.

However, on Monday, he met with the leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, and, according to news reports, he said that if India's parliament rejects the deal, then India's trustworthiness could be questioned.

Indian opposition parties and groups allied with the ruling coalition oppose the agreement, saying it violates Indian sovereignty or ties the country too closely to the United States.

Kissinger on Tuesday said delaying approval in India could mean that the deal will face more opposition in Washington after the U.S. elections next year.

"Certainly people who are opposed to the present agreement in the United States are likely to be better organized two years from now when it comes up again," added Kissinger.

The agreement would end years of international isolation for India's nuclear industry, imposed because the country developed and tested nuclear weapons.

Opposition parties in India want to revise the deal, but the U.S. government has ruled out renegotiating.