US 'Fully Supports' Iraqi Diplomatic Effort Involving Iran, Syria

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - A liberal advocacy group insists that Vice President Dick Cheney is "inching closer to war with Iran," and it wants Congress to use its "constitutional power to stop the White House."

The warning came on the same day that the Bush administration announced its support for an Iraqi diplomatic initiative involving Iran and Syria. is urging its supporters to help pay for a newspaper advertisement that sends a "simple, clear message to Congress." The ad's headline reads, "If you like war in Iraq, you'll love war on Iran." says it's important to let decision-makers in Washington know that the American people "won't tolerate more reckless behavior" in the Persian Gulf region.

"This time we see the warning signals, and we're organized to make a difference," the anti-war group said.

Diplomacy afoot

Far from going to war with Iran, the Bush administration on Tuesday agreed to participate in talks with Iran and Syria about the future of Iraq at two conferences that are being organized by Iraq.

"I would note that the Iraqi government has invited all of its neighbors, including Syria and Iran, to attend both of these regional meetings," Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We hope that all governments will seize this opportunity to improve the relations with Iraq and to work for peace and stability in the region."

The first meeting, in early March, will involve ambassadors from the invited nations. Rice will join foreign ministers at a second meeting in April, press reports said.

"We hope [Iran and Syria] seize this opportunity to improve their relations with Iraq -- and to work for peace and stability in the region," Rice said.

Democrats grumble

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Bush administration's decision to join talks with Iran and Syria "should have been made long ago."

He noted that Democrats -- and the bipartisan Iraq Study Group - have insisted all along that the U.S. must be willing to talk with "all major nations in the region, including Iran and Syria, if we are ever to find the necessary political solution in Iraq."

Reid called Rice's announcement a "first step," adding that it isn't enough on its own. "Our national security requires a robust diplomatic effort in the Middle East, and the Bush Administration cannot again settle for mere half measures," Reid said.

But some Americans say the United States has no business negotiating with Iran and Syria -- its enemies.

"These countries are responsible for the maiming and deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

"For months Iran and Syria have been fomenting terrorist activity against American troops and Iraqi civilians, providing terrorists with training, weapons and explosive devices.

"The United States should be bombing, not 'meeting,' these terrorist regimes," Brook said. "By evading the evil of these regimes and pretending that they're peace-seekers who share our goals, the United States would be encouraging and rewarding their aggression."

Iraq Study Group

In announcing U.S. support for the Iraqi diplomatic initiative, Secretary Rice said both she and President Bush "agree that success in Iraq requires the positive support of Iraq's neighbors. This is one of the key findings, of course, of the Iraq Study Group," Rice said, adding that "many in the Senate and in the Congress" have pushed the administration for a diplomatic solution.

The Iraq Study Group urged the Bush administration to negotiate with Iran and Syria as part of the effort to stabilize Iraq, but President Bush brushed aside those suggestions when the ISG released its recommendations late last year.

"The truth of the matter is that these countries (Iran and Syria) have now got the choice to make," President Bush said in December. "If they want to sit down at the table with the United States, it's easy: Just make some decisions that will lead to peace, not to conflict."

Bush has insisted that Iran stop its uranium enrichment activities - something Iran has refused to do; and he has demanded that Syria stop interfering in Lebanon.

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