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House Foreign Affairs Chairman: US Must Pursue Talks With Iran January 11, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. must pursue dialogue with Iran as part of its strategy to halt the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said Thursday.

The call for talks is contrary to the stance consistently taken by U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration, which has said it is not willing to hold talks until Iran suspends its uranium enrichment plan.

Beyond severe economic sanctions and aggressive application of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which prosecutes companies for investing more than $20 million, Lantos said action “must include dialogue… which presents the best opportunity to persuade” the country to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Although there was general bipartisan consensus about enacting tougher economic sanctions, including a ban on selling the refined petroleum products to Iran that it is short of, the ranking Republican on the committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said she strongly disagreed with opening a dialogue.

That, said the Florida representative, echoing the administration, would “legitimize the extremist regime, embolden our enemies, and allow the Iranian radicals to buy more time to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

Ros-Lehtinen said she would introduce two pieces of legislation this congress, including one that would target Iran’s energy sector by encouraging public and private pension and thrift savings plans to divest from U.S. and foreign companies that have invested $20 million or more in the sector.

By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires

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