Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Iran Welcomes Nuclear Talks

Monday, April 13, 2009
21:20 Mecca time, 18:20 GMT

Iran 'welcomes' nuclear talks

Jalili told the EU foreign policy chief that Tehran 'welcomed' dialogue, state media reported

Iran's senior nuclear negotiator has said that Tehran is open to constructive dialogue with six major powers over its sensitive uranium enrichment work.

Saeed Jalili's comments were made during a telephone conversation with Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, Iranian state television reported on Monday.

Jalili "welcomed dialogue between Iran and the six countries on constructive co-operation", the television report said.

"He emphasised the necessity of correct understanding of international realities and developments."

Jalili said Iran would give an official response to the six powers' statement, issued after a meeting of their senior officials in London last week, without saying when.

Direct talks

The report on Jalili's comments comes five days after the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said they had tasked the EU official with inviting Iran to a meeting to discuss its nuclear work.

The US in particular has expressed concern that Iran is seeking to enrich enough uranium to create a nuclear warhead.

Tehran has consistently denied that it is trying to build an atomic bomb, saying that its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity.

Washington's willingness to hold direct talks with Tehran marks a dramatic shift between the policy of Barack Obama, the new US president, and his predecessor George Bush.

'Real changes'

The Obama administration has offered a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement if Iran "unclenches its fist".

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, has said that his country is willing to hold talks with concerned nations as long as they were conducted on an equal basis.

"We speak very respectfully of Barack Obama. But we are realists. We want to see real changes," Ahmadinejad told Der Spiegel, a German newspaper, in an interview published last week.

Washington has warned of tougher sanctions if Tehran continues to defy United Nations demands to halt sensitive nuclear work, but Ahmadinejad said in the Spiegel interview that Iran reserves the right to continue enriching uranium.

The Iranian president inaugurated his country’s first nuclear fuel fabrication plant on April 9, announcing that the country had mastered the "entire fuel cycle".

Source: Agencies

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