The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have agreed to a proposal from Iran to resume talks on Tehran's nuclear program. EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is the contact person for the group, announced on March 6 she had responded to a February letter from Iranian nuclear negotiator Said Jalili proposing new discussions.
The time and venue of the talks between Tehran and the six powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany -- have not yet been agreed.
Jalili said in a letter sent on February 14 that Tehran was ready to resume the deadlocked talks at the "earliest" opportunity, on the condition that its right to peaceful atomic energy will be respected.
The West has voiced concerns that Iran's nuclear program has a weapons dimension. Iran denies any effort to develop nuclear arms.
In a statement, Ashton expressed hope that Iran would enter a "sustained process of constructive dialogue which will deliver real progress in resolving the international community's long-standing concerns on its nuclear program."
IAEA Inspection 'Possible'
Ashton's statement came as Iran on March 6 said it would be willing to allow inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit its Parchin military complex, which the West believes is part of a suspected Iranian nuclear weapons program.
IAEA inspectors last visited Parchin in 2005, and IAEA teams that recently visited Iran were not permitted to go there.
A statement from Iran's mission to the IAEA in Vienna quoted by Iran's state media said that visits to the Parchin complex cannot be permitted frequently because accessing the base is "a time-consuming process."
However, the statement said one future IAEA visit could be arranged.
The IAEA has recently reiterated that it continues to have strong concerns that Iran's nuclear program has a weapons dimension.
Iran denies any effort to develop nuclear arms.
These developments come at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and Israel, which has not ruled out possible military strikes against Tehran aimed at destroying its nuclear installations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on a visit to the United States, told U.S. President Barack Obama on March 5 that Israel must remain "master of its fate" and "has the right, the sovereign right, to make its own decisions."
Obama and Netanyahu held a closed-door meeting at the White House, which the U.S. leader said would focus mainly on Iran's nuclear program.
With AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters reporting
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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