Source: IIP Digital (The U.S.
Department of State)
European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and
Security Policy Catherine Ashton (left) with Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Clinton welcomed Iran's apparent readiness to return to talks,
but said, "If we do proceed, it will have to be a sustained effort
that can produce results."
Washington - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed Iran's
apparent offer to resume talks with the United States and its partners in the
P5+1 as "an important step" and said the offer is being closely analyzed.
"This response from the Iranian government is one we've been waiting for and if
we do proceed, it will have to be a sustained effort that can produce results,"
Clinton told reporters at the State Department February 17 in remarks with the
European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Ashton has been representing France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, China
and the United States - collectively known as the P5+1 - in discussions stemming
over international concern that Iran is developing nuclear weapons under the
cover of a civilian nuclear program.
In a written response to Ashton's October 2011 letter to Iranian officials,
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said February 14 that his
government is ready to resume nuclear talks with the P5+1 at the "earliest"
Clinton said the P5+1 is now collectively engaged in thorough diplomatic
consultations to evaluate Jalili's response.
According to Ashton's 2011 letter, the P5+1 had said any discussions with Iran
would need to begin with talks about its nuclear activities.
"Iran's response to Cathy's letter does appear to acknowledge and accept that,"
Ashton had also asked for assurances that there would be "a sustained effort by
Iran to come to the table, to work until we have reached an outcome that has
Iran coming back into compliance with their international obligations," Clinton
In her remarks, Ashton also welcomed the possibility that Iran may be ready to
"I am cautious and I am optimistic at the same time," Ashton said.
Iran last had talks with the P5+1 in January 2011, during which the group
offered a series of suggested confidence-building measures Iran could take to
help move the process forward. In addition, Ashton said the P5+1 has continued
to offer its October 2009 proposal to provide Iran's Tehran Research Reactor
with enriched uranium fuel, provided that the enrichment be done outside Iran to
ensure that the uranium would not be enriched to a level that could be used for
"If we start the talks, we want to sustain them," and therefore there will need
to be a process to allow P5+1 to clarify what they want to achieve and "what
we're expecting from the Iranians," Ashton said.
"That's what we're in the process of doing right now," she said.
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