Iran continues to
rule out suspending its nuclear activities, sources close to a new round of
talks between world powers and Iran taking place in Geneva said Saturday.
It is the first time that the United States is attending nuclear talks with Iran.
On behalf of the United Nations Security Council veto powers and Germany, EU chief diplomat Javier Solana met Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili to talk about the offer of future cooperation in the areas of economy, nuclear energy and politics, once Tehran halts its nuclear activities.
According to the source, a senior Iranian diplomat categorically ruled out stopping Iran's uranium enrichment before the start of the meeting.
The United States' representative at the talks, Undersecretary of State William Burns, is the first US diplomat in 30 years to attend the negotiations with Iran. He will not take an active role in the talks.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday it was a "strong signal" that the US was serious about the diplomatic process on the Iran issue. But she also made it clear that the US still demands that Iran first halt uranium enrichment before full negotiations begin.
Representatives from Britain, France, Russia and China and Germany also attended the meeting in Geneva's city hall, set to end in the afternoon. These and other countries are concerned Iran could one day use its civilian nuclear programme to build atom bombs, an allegation which Tehran strongly denies.
Iran is expected to come up with new proposals to settle the nuclear dispute.
Observers believe Iran will ask the world powers to acknowledge its nuclear programme and in return agree to more intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and allow Western countries to participate in its nuclear projects.
Russian President Dimitri Medvedev appealed to his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday to cooperate with the IAEA in a comprehensive manner. In a telephone conversation between the two leaders, Medvedev stressed that he sought a political solution to the nuclear conflict, dpa reported.