WASHINGTON D.C.: The United States ruled out on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) any suggestion that talks with Iran over its nuclear program are signs of warming relations between two countries whose diplomatic ties collapsed 35 years ago.
Iran and the so-called P5+1—Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany—are trying to strike a deal that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, a goal it denies having. In return, Iran is seeking an easing of punishing economic sanctions.
Both sides face a March 31 deadline for a framework deal.
“Even as we negotiate, this in no way represents a broader warming of ties, lessening of concerns on our part. This is not about a broader rapprochement in any way. This is about the nuclear issue and that’s it,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
“We are not linking the nuclear agreement or a successful nuclear agreement to a broader warming of ties, to a broader rapprochement on other issues, or in general,” she added.
Relations between Washington and Tehran collapsed after the 1979 Iranian revolution, during which Islamist students stormed the US embassy and held American diplomats prisoner for 444 days.
The crisis ushered in decades of deep distrust that persists today.
Harf said the United States has numerous concerns, including of Iran’s human rights record, but left the door open for better future relations.
“Rapprochement would indicate or would suggest some broader warming of ties where we don’t have serious concerns about human rights, about terrorism, about Syria, about Hezbollah,” she said.
“I can’t predict what would happen in two or five or 10 or 15 years, and the president, separately from the nuclear negotiations, has spoken multiple times about some day we would like to have a different relationship with Iran,” she added.