Iran welcomes US nuclear talks

IRAN welcomes nuclear talks with the US and other countries, Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator said yesterday.

The negotiator, Saeed Jalili, made the comments during a telephone call with the EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana, state television reported. During the conversation, Jalili said the talks should be aimed at “constructive cooperation” between countries.

Last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was open to talks — but only if they were based on respect for Iran’s rights, suggesting the West should not try to force Tehran to stop uranium enrichment. Jalili’s comments appeared to be more of a definitive answer, but he stressed that Iran would issue a response to the invitation soon, the TV reported.

The US announced last week it would join talks with Iran that Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are seeking to convene. The talks aim to break a long deadlock over Iran’s nuclear programme, which the US fears aims to build atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge.

Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that Iran would present a new proposal for negotiations, saying “conditions have changed” — an apparent reference to President Barack Obama’s election and Iran’s own progress in its nuclear programme since talks with Iran were held last year.

Ahmadinejad announced Iran now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel. The step was significant toward furthering Iran’s nuclear energy capabilities and could be designed to strengthen Iran’s position.


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