Reuters: British Prime Minister Tony Blair held out the prospect on Tuesday that Iran, under international pressure over its nuclear programme, could follow Libya’s example and transform its relations with the West. SIRTE, Libya (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Tony Blair held out the prospect on Tuesday that Iran, under international pressure over its nuclear programme, could follow Libya’s example and transform its relations with the West.
Change in Libya had produced huge possibilities for its future relations with Britain, the United States and Europe, Blair told a news conference on a visit to the once isolated North African state.
Asked if Britain’s transformed relationship with Libya held a lesson for Iran’s relations with the West, Blair said: “I think it is always possible for relationships to change but they change ultimately on the basis of actions.”
“In respect of Iran I’ve got no doubt at all that the situation is the same in this sense that the potential for partnership is always there provided the actions are the actions of partners,” Blair said in some of his most conciliatory remarks about Tehran.
Tripoli returned to the international fold after it abandoned efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and agreed to pay damages for a 1988 airliner bombing over Scotland.
Blair said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had shown personal and political courage in launching Libya on a programme of change. “Now that is something that is open to anybody who wants to take it,” he said.
The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, underlined what he said was the growing risk of a major confrontation between the West and Iran last week, saying Iran was probably three to eight years away from producing a nuclear bomb if it so chose.
The Islamic Republic denies Western charges that it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its programme is aimed purely at
Major powers last year offered Iran trade, technical and other incentives to suspend uranium enrichment. But negotiations proved fruitless and were called off before the U.N. Security Council imposed a first set of sanctions on Tehran.
Washington accuses Iran of arming, funding and training Shi’ite militias who are fuelling Iraq’s spiral into sectarian civil war, a charge Iran denies. The United States and Iran held their most high-profile meeting in 30 years on Monday.