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We negotiated with the Soviets, so why not negotiate with Iran?

To the editor: About the tradition in Iran of ending Friday prayers by chanting "Death to America," Jonah Goldberg writes that "in a purely rational world, that would be all one needed to know that Iran is not a reliable negotiating partner." ("The inconvenient truths in Tom Cotton's letter to Iran," op-ed, March 16)

Yet the U.S. negotiated agreements and treaties with the Soviet Union on issues of limiting testing and the deployment of nuclear weapons. This was a country whose leader had promised emphatically "We will bury you," and "Your grandchildren will live under communism."

It's not really clear whether Goldberg is saying we shouldn't be negotiating with Iran, as he never comes back to that issue (spending his time instead defending the 47 senators who signed the letter to Iran). If that is his point, however, he seems not to offer any workable alternative.

Michael Meier, Santa Ana

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To the editor: Goldberg misses the point. The question is not whether the content of the senators' letter to the Iranian government was accurate, but rather whether it is appropriate for senators to assume the role of legal counsel to a country, Iran, that the senators themselves view as our enemy.

Iran can make its own decision about whether any nuclear agreement has loopholes. No member of Congress should undertake to advise Iran on such issues. That's the point.

Irving Greines, Los Angeles

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