President Bush’s time in the White House is coming to an end, as is his administration’s bellicose stance towards what it terms rogue states. Once, Washington labelled North Korea and Iran part of a global “axis of evil.” But now Under-Secretary of State William Burns is in Geneva for nuclear talks with Tehran, while his boss Condoleezza Rice is expected to meet North Korean officials next week. “It is, in fact, a strong signal to the entire world that we have been very serious about this diplomacy, and we will remain very serious about his diplomacy,” she said.
The White House knows the clock is ticking, and its old policies have not worked, and needs to talk to Iran to ease tensions in the Middle East. Tehran has always insisted it has no intention of building nuclear weapons, despite continuing US concerns. The White House policy shift will be watched by the Presidential candidates: John McCain remains opposed to talking to Iran without pre-conditions, while Barack Obama has long espoused the need for debate.