First of all, this is excellent news.
Second of all, it will be interesting to learn the back story. There are three other Iranian-Americans still being detained, so there is still room for very bad things to happen in the relationship.
But my hunch here is that China is playing a balancing role behind the scenes. The U.S. is still working hard on lining up political support for a third round of UN Security Council sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program — but after the relatively mild and constructive IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear activities and now the release of Esfandiari — either this is part of backroom deal-making between the US and Iran, or is part of a confidence builiding process that the Chinese or Europeans are coaxing Iran through.
Alternatively, Iran may just be on the edge of a kind of “charm offensive” that it is directing on its own to balance the bleat that will soon start from the neocon crowd these coming weeks.
— Steve Clemons