Iran would welcome a “hot line” with US, says Ahmadinejad


Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he would welcome a “hot line” with the United States or any other way to head off conflict in the Persian Gulf.

He told a news conference Friday that there was no reason for any clashes and “any tool that can prevent clashes or potential conflict, we welcome.”

Ahmadinejad said if NATO, British and U.S. forces leave the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, Iran will guarantee the shipping of oil and other energy supplies.

“The long-term solution is for foreign forces to leave the region,” Ahmadinejad said.

There is no formal proposal for such a hot line, but several U.S. military officials have mused publicly about establishing an emergency contact system to prevent misunderstandings between U.S. Navy ships and planes and an increasingly assertive Iranian military.

There have been several close calls over the past year between small, fast Iranian boats that have appeared to charge or harass U.S. vessels, and Iranian planes that zip too close to U.S. ships and planes.

Military officials say some of the Iranian ships are behaving more aggressively than the largely professional Iranian Navy, and U.S. officials suspect that many belong to the unpredictable Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Both nations claim patrol rights in the Persian Gulf.

The hot line, modeled on the old emergency contact line between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, would let a U.S. commander quickly call a senior Iranian military official for clarification of Iranian motives, or to complain.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a university audience last week that he is concerned by the lack of communication between the U.S. and Iranian militaries — a breach that dates to the severing of diplomatic ties three decades ago.

“Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, U.S. officials could still talk with the Soviets,” Mullen said at the University of Miami.