WASHINGTON – Iranian newspapers are reporting that a visit to Tehran this week by the leader of the Persian Gulf state of Oman was aimed at beginning quiet talks between the United States and the Islamic Republic.
One of the newspapers, the daily Khorasan, said Sultan
The United States and other world powers fear Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and they have been trying to force curbs on its production of highly enriched uranium that could be used to fuel a bomb.
A U.S. administration official declined to comment on the Iranian newspaper reports. But Ray Takeyh, a former
While the two countries have been taking part for years in gridlocked international talks on Iran’s
Iran’s supreme leader,
Qaboos reportedly received special treatment during his three-day visit, which began Sunday and included meetings with Khamenei, Rouhani and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's new foreign minister.
Takeyh, who is now with the Council on Foreign Relations, said Qaboos' objective might have been leaked to the newspapers by conservative elements opposed to any deal with the United States.
Takeyh said he believed that widely expected U.S. air strikes on Syria, for its alleged chemical weapons attack on pro-rebel suburbs of Damascus, could increase the chances of deal-making. Iran is Syria's most important ally.
"Khamenei's more interested in diplomacy when he's frightened," Takeyh said.