Iranian Officials Pleased US Accepts Offer to Hold Talks
By Jessica Desvarieux, VOA, Cairo
Iranian officials say they are pleased the United States and other world powers
have accepted Iran's offer to hold talks, but they insist Iran will not back
down from its refusal to negotiate on its controversial nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said he welcomed talks with the U.S.
and its partners, adding that "should conditions be ripe, there is a possibility
of talks about the nuclear issue."
Mottaki's remarks came as the United States and its partner nations accepted a
proposal made earlier this week from Iran for broad talks - even though Tehran
had said the nuclear issue was not on the table.
But the "possibility" of talks on Iran's nuclear issue comes with stipulation
says director of the Center for Arab & Iranian Studies Ali Nourizadeh.
"Possibility means that Iran is ready to talk about nuclear issues if the United
States and other foreign countries, they accept Iran's right to continue
enrichment programs. There won't be any return from the enrichment program," he
Iran on Wednesday presented the five permanent members of the U.N. Security
Council - U.S., Russia, France, Britain and China - plus Germany with a proposal
to hold "comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive" talks on a range of
security issues, including global nuclear disarmament.
The document made no mention of Tehran's nuclear program, which the West fears
masks a nuclear arms ambitions. Tehran says the program is only for peaceful
Mottaki's remark follows recent public statements from Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad who said he refused to discuss Iran's "nuclear right" with world
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that although Iran sidestepped
the nuclear issue in its proposal, the U.S. viewed it as a chance to begin
But, Nourizadeh says Iran's desire to meet with the U.S. is more about
legitimization than diplomacy. He adds that he is pessimistic that dialogue will
yield the suspension of Iran's nuclear enrichment program.
"I don't think there's anything for the United States. They will come out more
disappointed with nothing in their hands," said Nourizadeh.
The U.S. State Department hopes for a better outcome and says it would like to
meet with Iran as soon as possible.
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