Catherine Ashton hopes talks to begin with Iran very soon
The European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said she remains hopeful that nuclear talks with Iran "can happen very soon", Mehrnews reported.
The remarks came after the top Iranian diplomat Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday that Tehran is ready to hold talks with six major powers over its nuclear program "in late October or early November"
"This is news to us. There has been no official date set for talks, nor has there been any official correspondence received by ... Ashton or her services with regard to a date for talks," Ashton's spokesman said, according to Reuters.
The spokesman said Ashton "remains ready to talk and is hopeful this can happen very soon."
Talking to reporters, Mottaki said, "We think late October or early November will be an appropriate date for the talks by the representatives of Iran and 5+1 countries."
Mottaki gave no details about the venue of the talks. Western officials say they could take place in Vienna or Geneva.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley also said, "If Iran is ready to hold talks, all they need to do is pick up the phone and set a date."
Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- as well as Germany -- stalled in October last year.