( RIA Novosti ) - Iran will not stop uranium enrichment as a condition for the resumption of direct talks with the United States, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said that Washington would start the next round of talks with Tehran only if Iran agreed to fold its controversial nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies insist that the program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, but Iran says it needs to continue nuclear research for energy purposes.
"The Iranian government, in accordance with its obligations based on the provisions of the Constitution and interests of the [Iranian] people, has no intention whatsoever of renouncing its rights under international law," Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a statement.
The first round of official negotiations between Tehran and Washington took place in Baghdad in late May, and were the first direct talks between the two countries for 27 years. The main issues discussed were the situation in Iraq and the release of Iranian diplomats seized by the U.S. in January in Iraq on suspicion of aiding Iraqi militants.
The second round was held in July, also in Baghdad, and the three sides agreed to set up a trilateral committee on Iraqi security.
However, Iran continues to insist that the U.S.-led coalition force is causing instability and violence in Iraq, and Tehran is calling for the urgent withdrawal of military forces and the complete transfer of authority to the legitimate Iraqi government. "The presence of occupational forces in Iraq causes instability in that country," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tuesday at a meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the largest political party in the Iraqi Council of Representatives.
"It is in their interests to leave Iraq as soon as possible," he said.