Iran talks hold promise

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Nations have interests. The United States and Iran have important differences, but there are important common interests as well. The outlines of a potential diplomatic achievement are fairly clear. Iran would agree not to pursue nuclear military capabilities, allow international inspectors to verify agreements and take a constructive positions on sensitive Middle East issues such as Syria. 

The United States and our allies would agree to lift economic sanctions currently in force by the U.S., Europe and the United Nations, then bilateral economic, financial and trade relationships could begin and grow. 

The new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, proposed a program of greater Iranian cooperation on global issues that would help Iran strengthen economic growth and prosperity at home. The new Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is an internationally respected diplomat. The proposals offered by Iran during the Geneva meetings were not perfect by American standards but were constructive and are being taken seriously. 

Similarly, Secretary of State John Kerry is a globally respected statesman and is deeply involved in the negotiations. And Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of State who leads the U.S. negotiating team, is widely admired and highly influential in American foreign policy.

The proposals circulating in the White House and State Department to begin building mutual trust are a good idea and should be implemented. Proposals in the Congress that would increase sanctions at this moment would be poorly timed and should be held on hold. 

Rouhani and Zarif have offered new thinking; Obama and Kerry have responded with good faith, and for the first time in many years, there is the possibility of the U.S. and Iran finding common ground to serve mutual interests.