USA*ENGAGE Endorses Call for U.S.-Iranian Dialogue

Tuesday, 16 December 1997

"Obviously, the divisions between our two nations runs deep and will not be easily resolved. Nonetheless, it would be extremely shortsighted if the United States were to ignore the apparent offers of improved relations coming from Iran," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE.

Kittredge was commenting on statements made by Iranian President Mohammed Khatemi during the recent Islamic Summit in Tehran, in which he called for the establishment of a "thoughtful dialogue" between Iran and the United States.

"It has become clear that America's allies and trading partners are not willing to support continued U.S. attempts to isolate Iran from the world community. This lack of cooperation makes it all the more important to explore potential openings for improved relations with Iran," Kittredge continued.

Kittredge pointed to the recently announced multi-billion dollar Iranian oil venture -- involving France's Total, Russia's Gazprom, and Malaysia's Petronas oil companies -- as a prime example of the ineffectiveness of unilateral U.S. sanctions.

"The failure of the U.S. Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) to prevent international investment in Iran is further indication that unilateral sanctions don't work. The U.S. business community believes strongly in the benefits of engagement rather than the dangers of isolation that result from unilateral sanctions. We are hopeful that if the United States determines this is a legitimate diplomatic initiative from Iran, it will take full advantage of the opportunity," he concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 652 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.


Contact: Eric Thomas 202/822-9491

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