Dalga Khatinoglu, Trend, Iran News Service Chief/
Following in the footsteps of several top Iranian officials, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's offer for direct talks between the two nations on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad's welcome came simultaneously with the implementation of new U.S. sanctions on Iran which were approved by the Senate and received President Barak Obama's signature on Feb.6.
However, regarding a deadline on Iran's disputed nuclear program and the continued worsening of the Iranian economy, Tehran may be convinced that there is no way out except for direct negotiations with Washington.
Iran, whose oil export shared 87.9 percent of total export in 2011, faced serious obstacles with both crude oil exports and revenue collection last year. According to reports, Iran's oil export halved during 2012. Iran's petroleum minister confirmed a 40 percent drop in oil export and a 45 percent dip in the collection of oil export incomes. Iran's national currency has lost 90 percent of its value since beginning of last year and a $60 billion budget deficit is expected for the current Iranian solar based calendar year which started on March 19, 2012.
Iranian oil revenue abroad frozen by sanctions on the banking sector has reached $100 billion, according to Hamid Safdel deputy of Industry, Mine and Trade Minister.
Iran is preparing to launch a bartering committee to solve the problem. According to a new round of U.S. sanctions which is expected to take force today, Iran would be unable to collect and transfer any money from abroad to the country regardless of currency.
Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with the editors-in-chief of the Egyptian media in Cairo on Tuesday night that Iran will study US proposal for direct talks provided that Washington makes positive changes in its behavior.
"Such remarks by US officials are new and positive and we hope that these positive changes are seen in their behavior too. If we witness positive changes in their behavior, we will study their proposal with a positive attitude," Press TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Biden's offer is not new. Obama has called Iran to direct talks since 2008 without hearing any positive response, but this time, it seems Iran is truly ready because the country's economy is on the verge of collapse.
Direct talks may be not favorable to the Arab states and Israel, but Obama allegedly has plans to make his first trip since 2008 (the first trip of his presidency) to Israel on March 20. In light of the political demise of close Washington ally Hosni Mubarak and the ascent of the potentially threatening Muslim Brotherhood, Tel-Aviv might give the green light to direct Iran- U.S. talks.
Due to the lack of any diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran and their 33 years' worth of accumulated hostilities, talks may take a long time, however direct talks are unavoidable and the two sides both know this very well.