ALTHOUGH one should not expect any breakthrough in the US-Iran nuclear standoff any time in the foreseeable future, the reversal of Washington's stand that it would not sit with Tehran to negotiate a way out of the issue till it abandons the uranium enrichment programme is, indeed, a positive sign. It would have been far more appropriate had this course been adopted much earlier and the bullying tactics of Israel and its own that have vitiated the climate between the two and kept the whole world on edge for so long could have been avoided, and maybe by now we would have been somewhere near solution. In the regional context it cleares the decks for a possible US incursion in Pakistan's troubled tribal belt. The Iranians have responded with the hope that the participation of US Undersecretary William Burns in the talks between them and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana at Geneva would melt the ice to be followed by the opening of a US interest section at Tehran and the beginning of flights between the two countries. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki pointed out that in recent years a number of people " students, academics, businessmen and artists " from the US have wanted to come to Iran and these measures would facilitate their visit. If the media reports that Washington was likely to announce the establishment of an interest section next month are true, the development would make for further easing of the prevailing tension. Another pertinent move that could contribute to a positive outcome of these contacts would be for the US to rein in Israel that keeps hurling threats of strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities virtually every day, which, in fact, prove counterproductive and reinforce the Iranian leadership's view that it needs to develop military muscle to live honourably in a hostile surroundings. The US has also to realise the regional importance of Iran and its need to exploit the nuclear resource for peaceful purpose, especially at this time of worldwide energy shortage. To dissuade non-nuclear powers to give up nuclear ambitions, the US needs to revisit the NPT and, along with other nuclear states, move towards nuclear disarmament.