5,016. 5/2/2003

A “comprehensive proposal, which diplomats referred to as ‘the grand bargain,’ was sent to Washington on May 2, 2003, just before a meeting in Geneva [Switzerland] between Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, and Zalmay Khalilzad, then a senior director at the National Security Council [NSC]. According to a report by Gareth Porter in the American Prospect, Iran offered to take ‘decisive action against any terrorists (above all, al Qaeda) in Iranian territory.’ In exchange, Iran wanted the U.S. to pursue ‘anti-Iranian terrorists’–such as the Mujahideen e-Khalq, or MEK. Specifically, Iran offered to share names of senior Al-Qaeda operatives in its custody in return for the names of MEK cadres captured by the United States in Iraq. …Iran…offered to submit to much stricter inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On the subject of Israel, Iran offered to join with moderate Arab regimes such as Egypt and Jordan in accepting the 2002 Arab League Beirut declaration calling for peace with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The negotiating package also included proposals to normalize Hezbollah into a mere ‘political organization within Lebanon,’ to bring about a ‘stop of any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory,’ and to stop violent actions against civilians within borders of 1967.’ …given the initiative’s historic scope, it was striking that the Bush administration simply declined to respond. There was not even an interagency meeting to discuss the proposal. ‘The State Department knew it had no chance at the interagency level of arguing the case for it successfully,’ former NSC staffer Flynt Leverett told the American Prospect. ‘They weren’t going to waste [Secretary of State] Colin Powell’s rapidly diminishing capital on something that unlikely.’ ”

 – Craig Unger, The Fall of the House of Bush, Pages 308-309

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