Iran has agreed to a second round of discussions over its disputed nuclear program following a meeting in Geneva with diplomats from the United States and other world powers. Suzanne Maloney joined PBS’ NewsHour to discuss how this week’s talks were a positive step and what to expect from future engagement between the United States and Iran.
JEFFREY BROWN, host: And to talk about the negotiations and state of relations, we turn to Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. She served on the policy planning staff at the State Department from 2005 to 2007.
And James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, he’s participated in talks with the Iranians in the past and held top State Department and White House posts under four presidents.
And welcome to both of you.
A constructive beginning, but hard work lies ahead. Does this sound like a successful start out of negotiations?
SUZANNE MALONEY: I think it’s both a successful start and it is exactly the right tone for the Obama administration to be adopting at this point in what is going to be very early and long process and one that is likely to be quite difficult.
But, really, going into these talks today, I think expectations were very low as a result of the tensions that had been raised over the past week or so after the revelation of this facility in Qom and that the Iranian response, which involved some saber-rattling.
And so, as far as I know, no one at the State Department went into the talks today with a really high expectation of getting specific responses from the Iranians, and so that, obviously, was the goal and the idea that these talks will continue and involve some real concessions, some real steps by the Iranians to meet international concerns about their nuclear program is a very positive start.
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It strikes me as unlikely that the [Iranian] regime will switch horses at this stage or that a rival can offer a compelling alternative to the electorate...[but] making predictions on Iranian elections is a fool’s game.