Iran signals openness for nuclear talks
Iran is open to international talks on its disputed nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki signalled Friday, a day after the European Union called for talks, DPA reported.
Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful, but has failed to cooperate with United Nations inspectors, despite several rounds of UN sanctions. The United States and EU fear the programme is designed to create a nuclear bomb.
"It is good news that, from the (EU headquarters) here (in Brussels), they are following the matter, and I think that is the way to coordinate some specific and fixed date for starting negotiations," Mottaki said as he arrived at the EU's HQ for talks on the situation in Pakistan.
On Thursday, the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, called on Iran to return to negotiations and proposed a three-day conference in Vienna in mid-November as the venue.
Ashton negotiates on behalf of the "5+1" group of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US on the nuclear issue. The nickname of the group refers to the fact that five of the six - all but Germany - are permanent members of the UN Security Council.
"We are ready to start (talks) ... We'd like to get on with it, so what I've done is propose dates and places, made a suggestion of the length of time we should meet for, and so on," Ashton said Friday.
Ashton and Mottaki did not talk directly before the Pakistan meeting, and did not comment on whether they were planning to do so on the sidelines. But Mottaki appeared to welcome Ashton's words.
"October or November is, from our point of view, a good time for the re-establishment of negotiations between Iran and the 5+1," he said.