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Iranian FM: We are Ready to Talk with US

Tehran, May 6, IRNA - Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in an interview with Time magazine that Iran is ready for talks with the US officials.

The Minister also indicated that recently revived talks on the nuclear issue with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana should continue "until we arrive at a multi-faceted formula" that recognizes Iran's nuclear rights and satisfies international concerns.

Speaking after the conclusion of a two-day conference on Iraq's future held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Mottaki explained that he did not meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice one-on-one during the conference, because "ministers of foreign affairs don't just meet accidentally."

Rice told reporters that "the opportunity simply didn't arise...I would have taken that opportunity."

Besides facing each other across the conference table, Rice and Mottaki exchanged pleasantries at a lunch.

But Mottaki walked out of a dinner at which the Egyptian hosts had placed him within easy conversation range of Rice purportedly because he objected to a revealing red dress worn by a woman violinist providing background music for the occasion.

"Before such talks could occur, Washington would have to show political will to enter into discussions with Iran, and take unspecified steps to show its seriousness," he said.

The fact that Mottaki and Rice showed up at the same conference was, in itself, a small breakthrough.

But their failure to hold a tete-a-tete on the sidelines disappointed Iraqi and other officials at the conference, who believe that US-Iranian understanding may be crucial, the Time said.

Read the full text of the TIME interview: Iran: 'We are Ready to Talk'

West should negotiate with Iran instead of making threats: Khatami

TEHRAN, May 6 (Mehr News Agency) -- The West should start negotiations with Iran instead of threatening it, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said in a meeting with Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema in Rome on Sunday.

The European Union and the United States should understand that threatening and imposing sanctions on Iran will not compel the country to forgo its right to nuclear energy, he stated.

All Iranian officials, under the leadership of the Supreme Leader, are in consensus on the need to possess nuclear technology, noted Khatami, who is currently the director of the Center for Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations.

D'Alema said that the international community expects Iran to make use of its key position in the Middle East in the best possible way.

He expressed appreciation for the Islamic Republic's participation in the Iraq security conference last week, saying that by sitting at the same table with other countries of the world in Egypt, Iran opened a window of opportunity for the international community.

As a powerful and influential country in the region, Iran can play an important role in resolving the problems of the Middle East, he added.

Khatami also met the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Pier Ferdinando Casini.

"The international community needs Iran's help to establish peace and stability," Casini said in the meeting.

It is wrong to think that solutions to the problems of the Middle East can be found without Iran's participation, he added.

Referring to Khatami's speech at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Saturday, in which he said that it is not acceptable to wage war and carry out acts of violence in the name of God, Casini stated, "Islam is a religion of peace."

Khatami also asserted that Iran is the world's main advocate for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East.

... Payvand News - 5/6/07 ...

... Payvand News - 5/6/07 ... --

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