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Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st March 2009.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Foreign Secretary 2:30 pm, 31st March 2009

The hon. Gentleman asked the same question several times last year. I know that he shares the Government's commitments on this matter, but I say to him—in the nicest possible way—that one very big thing has changed since then. For the first time in 30 years there is an American Government who want to open a bilateral channel with the Iranian Government and people. By any stretch of the imagination, that is a big change.

Given that the whole world, as well as the American Government, is committed to seeing that outreach take place— [ Interruption. ] I hear an Opposition Member shout, "How long?" but the Americans have not even completed their review yet, so let us hold our horses about that. It surely makes sense to say that the Americans should complete their review and ensure that the elements of their multilateral and bilateral outreach are clarified for the Iranians. If the Iranians do not respond in a positive way, we can then ensure that further steps are taken. If the hon. Gentleman pauses to think about it, he will recognise that now is not the time to be rushing for more sanctions; instead, now is the time to be backing the American outreach, which is a once-in-a-generation opportunity both for us and for the Iranians.

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