For a change:

We welcome the news that President Bush has decided to send one of his top diplomats to talks on Iran’s nuclear program. That is quite a change from just a few months ago when Bush denounced as appeasement any effort to talk to “terrorists and radicals.”

Though late, we hope this means that Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are learning the lessons of seven years of failed foreign policies built almost completely on isolating (or attacking) America’s adversaries. Bush’s decision

to send William Burns (Rice’s third in command) to join the European Union’s foreign policy chief and other top diplomats in talks with Iran makes any incentives package look more credible. It also shifts the diplomatic pressure back to Tehran. And it will make it harder for Beijing and Moscow to resist imposing a new round of sanctions if Iran remains obstinate.

Washington could do even better — with the Iranian people, international opinion and possibly Iran’s leaders — if it followed up with an offer to open an interests section in Tehran. The administration is grudgingly asserting this is a “one-time-only” deal and that Burns will not negotiate with the Iranians. We welcome Bush’s willingness to try diplomacy for a change. But he might do even better if he didn’t trumpet his ambivalence quite so loudly. — The New York Times