LONDON: Iran offered to cut off aid and support for the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, and promised full transparency on its nuclear program, in a secret letter to the US soon after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The offer was contained in a letter obtained by the BBC which, though unsigned, was understood by the US State Department to come with the approval of the highest Iranian authorities.
The Islamic republic also offered to use its influence to support stabilisation in Iraq, and in return asked for a halt in hostile American behaviour, an abolition of all sanctions, and the pursuit and repatriation of members of the Mujahedeen Khalq (People's Mujahedeen MKO).
The MKO is an exiled Iranian opposition group that fought alongside former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's army in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, and is currently based in Iraq.
Initially, the State Department looked positively on the offer, Lawrence Wilkerson, former US secretary of state Colin Powell's chief of staff, told the BBC.
"As soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the Vice-President's (**** Cheney) office, the old mantra of 'we don't talk to evil' ... reasserted itself," Mr Wilkerson said.
"To our embarrassment at State ... the cable that I saw go back to the Swiss actually upbraided the Swiss for being so bold and audacious as to present such a proposal to us on behalf of the Iranians."
He said the State Department was also offered a deal by the Iranians after the US led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which involved Iran giving up senior al-Qa'ida figures in return for help pursuing the MKO.
Mr Powell and Mr Wilkerson were unsure how high in the Iranian Government the approach came from and did not pursue the offer, the BBC said. AFP
If this is true it represents a major blunder and does not show rumsfeld in a positive manner.