The Bush Administration's sudden willingness to engage Iran in direct diplomatic talks even as Tehran presses ahead with its nuclear program is the source of much consternation in Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, Washington announced that its third highest diplomat, Undersecretary of State William Burns, would join upcoming negotiations with Iranian nuclear negotiators. The US had previously refused to talk directly with Iran until the latter agreed to halt its uranium enrichment efforts.
On Thursday, The Guardian reported that the Bush Administration was also planning to open a low-level diplomatic office in Tehran in the near future with an eye toward reestablishing full diplomatic relations.
The unanticipated softening of America's position vis-a-vis Iran was met with satisfaction and approval from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has for years been prophesying that US efforts to prevent his nations from acquiring nuclear weapons would ultimately come to naught.
The reaction in Israel was of a notably less pleased tone.
"There is a bad feeling in Israel and dissatisfaction with the US move," Israeli diplomatic sources told the Associated Press. They said Washington had tried to reassure Israel by explaining that the moves were all aimed at better determining if Iran could be trusted.
The Americans reportedly accused European foreign policy chief Javier Solana of misrepresenting the outcomes of his negotiations with Iran, and said they wanted to witness the next round of talks first-hand.
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