Nearly all 40 newspapers in Tehran carried welcoming reports about the idea of direct talks with the United States on Wednesday, that has grabbed the headlines.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abodllahian first hinted at the possibility on Monday and Supreme Council of National Security chief Ali Shamkhani echoed the same idea on Tuesday.
The exceptions were the hardliner Kayhan which is linked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office and ultraconservative Vatan Emrooz, a Paydari Party mouthpiece, which is the dominant hardliner group in the parliament.
The kayhan harshly criticized Amir-Abodollahian and Shamkhani for their support for direct talks with the Washington.
Last week, Kayhan and IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency had lashed out at Amir-Abdollahian for his support for a balanced foreign policy which meant having ties with the United States as well as Russia and China.
Vatan Emrooz totally had ignored the development while IRGC daily Javan avoided criticizing the foreign minister and the change was noticed by many social media activists in Iran.
The idea of direct talks was most recently brought up by US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley who responded to the Iranian side's call for a guarantee that future US governments will not pull out of a nuclear deal with Iran. Malley suggested that major US companies can be prompted to invest in Iran and in that case, they will prevent a US pull out from a new agreement.
Nonetheless, it was Khamenei himself who first mentioned the possibility of direct talks with the United States in a January 9 speech in which he showed the first public sign of his readiness for a compromise on the nuclear deal. His move was similar to his "heroic flexibility" speech in 2013 when he first agreed to negotiations with the United States. He said on January 9, "Negotiations with the enemy at a certain juncture does not necessarily mean surrender".
In a report that was published by Iran Diplomacy website on Wednesday, conservative commentator Jalal Khoshchehreh told the website that softening Iran's positions on holding direct talks with America was a change that followed President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Moscow last week. Raisi himself, however, implied on live TV Tuesday night that direct talks are possible only if the United States lifts the sanctions on Iran.
As a result, Iranian newspapers came out Wednesday morning with three different messages about Tehran's approach to direct talks with Washington: The good, the bad and the ugly: Khamenei and Amir Abdollahian approving of direct talks with some hesitation, Raisi pending direct talks on the lifting of the sanctions, and Kayhan absolutely ruling out direct negotiations under any circumstances.
In a prominent headline on its frontpage on Wednesday the Kayhan said that "Direct talks is the enemy's trick to evade lifting the sanctions. Hossein Shariatmadari, the daily's firebrand editor wrote in his "brotherly advice to the foreign minister and security chief" that although they might be looking for water, they are misled to drown themselves in a mirage. Shariatmadari said he is worried that support for direct talks with the United States might disappoint the regime's devoted zealot supporters.
The anti-US editor then resorted to a piece of poetry from Iran's great poet Hafiz and quoted the 14th century mystic as saying: "This country is far from water, beware of the demons who lead you to mirage."