Iran, US can talk over diplomatic presence, direct flights: Turkey’s FM

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Friday "Turkey supports holding dialog on Iran's nuclear program."

Ali Babacan and his Iranian counterpart Manuchehr Motaki held a joint news conference following their tete-a-tete meeting in Ankara on Friday, reported World Bulletin.

"We hope that the dialog process on Iran's nuclear program would continue with success," Babacan said.

"We held consultations today with Motaki on Iranian nuclear program," Babacan said.

"The meeting that would be held in Geneva on Saturday in regard to Iran's nuclear program carries high importance. We exchanged ideas with Motaki on nuclear talks," Babacan said.

"Turkey supports the idea of handling Iran's nuclear program through dialog. Turkey supports the nuclear talks process and thus the meeting to be held on Saturday in Geneva," Babacan said.

"Iran's nuclear program was among topics I discussed with my colleagues from Europe and the United States in the past 10 days," Babacan said.

"We are very clear on this matter of nuclear energy. While we are against the use of nuclear weapons in our region, we believe that every sovereign country has the natural right to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Dialog and consultations are necessary to build confidence. We stress the importance of dialog in all of our meetings. We wish for the process to continue successfully," Babacan said.

"One of the topics we discussed with Ali Babacan today was Iran's nuclear program," Motaki said.

"We are in constant consultations on this matter. Turkey always follows Iran's nuclear activities. We thank Turkey for its constructive approach to Iran's nuclear activities," Motaki said.

Iran said it saw a possibility for talks on the United States opening a diplomatic presence in Tehran and direct flights between the two countries, nearly three decades after Washington severed ties with Iran.

"I think there may be talks on both the U.S. founding an interest preserving bureau in Iran and direct flights between the two countries," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.

He did not specify when and in what form those talks could occur. Mottaki said Iran had last year proposed direct flights because of demand coming from Americans and Iranians.

The United States has been looking at opening an interests section in Iran to help improve ties with the country.

Washington cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, in which a group of Iranian students held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage at the American embassy for 444 days.

Washington has an interests section in Havana, Cuba, which is formally part of the Swiss embassy. In reality it is fully independent. The Islamic Republic maintains an interests section at the embassy of Pakistan in Washington.

"There have been Americans coming to Iran in last years for academic and trade purposes. We support these developments between peoples. There are many American companies doing business in Iran," Mottaki said.

Mottaki said new talks starting on Saturday on his country's nuclear programme were positive.

"The new negotiation process is positive and the procedure is good. It signals good developments for the future. I hope this goodness in the process is also reflected in the content," he said.

Mottaki played down any expectations of a quick solution at the Geneva talks were Iran to be offered a "freeze-for-freeze" proposal, saying "do not hurry".

This would be a step involving Iran freezing expansion of nuclear work in return for world powers halting moves to add to three rounds of U.N. sanctions already imposed.

The United States said on Wednesday it was sending an envoy, senior U.S. diplomat Williams Burns, to join nuclear talks with Iran for the first time.

"We view the fact that a representative from the U.S. is there as a positive development. I hope this positive approach in shape and format also spreads to the content," Mottaki said.

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