AFP: The United States is not trying to create incentives to bring Iran to the negotiating table but rather is seeking ways to intensify pressure to force it to change its ways, the Pentagon said Thursday.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States is not trying to create incentives to bring Iran to the negotiating table but rather is seeking ways to intensify pressure to force it to change its ways, the Pentagon said Thursday.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell indicated, however, that the Pentagon does not currently plan an increase in US military presence in the Gulf as a form of pressure on Iran.
Morrell sought to clarify remarks Wednesday by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that were interpreted here as a call for a combination of incentives and pressures to induce Iran to negotiate.
Morrell said there was "absolutely no gap" on the issue between Gates and President George W. Bush, who said in Jerusalem Wednesday that negotiating with "radicals and terrorists" was "a foolish delusion."
What Gates and the rest of the administration were focused on, the spokesman said, "is continuing to find ways to increase the pressure on the Iranian government to change their behavior."
"The only incentive that would be offered to the Iranians would be a reduction, a diminishment of that pressure if they were to change their behavior, if they were to abandon their pursuit of a nuclear program and stop destabilizing the region in which they live," Morrell said.
In his remarks to a foreign policy group, Gates indicated that the United States lacks leverage to fruitfully engage the Iranians in negotiations now.
"We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage with the Iranians and then sit down and talk with them," he said, referring to general US relations with Tehran.
"If there is going to be a discussion then they need something, too," he said. "We can't go to a discussion and be completely the 'demandeur' with them not feeling they do not need anything from us."
But Morrell said Gates saw "no prospect" for government-to-government talks "until such time that the Iranians feel such pressure from the diplomatic, economic and military pressure we are putting them under that they want to change their ways."