Iran General NewsIran nuclear official, Solana speak on phone

Iran nuclear official, Solana speak on phone

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ImageReuters: Iran's chief nuclear negotiator spoke with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana after the Islamic Republic said it was ready for talks with six world powers, Iranian media reported on Thursday.

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran's chief nuclear negotiator spoke with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana after the Islamic Republic said it was ready for talks with six world powers, Iranian media reported on Thursday.

Responding to the powers' invitation to discuss the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear program, Tehran said on Wednesday said it welcomed "constructive" talks but that it would press ahead with work to develop atomic energy.

State radio said Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, spoke with Solana on the telephone a few hours after Tehran released its response in a statement.

It quoted Solana, who had been asked by world powers including the United States to invite Tehran to a meeting, as saying the Iranian statement "contains constructive items and a new opportunity for advancement of talks."

Jalili said Iran's response "contains a new suitable orientation for the advancement of talks in an atmosphere of mutual respect and fairness," the radio report said.

The United States and its Western allies suspect Iran is aiming to develop nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian program and want it to halt sensitive uranium enrichment. Iran rejects the allegation and says it will not bow to pressure.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said on April 8 they would ask Solana to invite Iran to a meeting to find "a diplomatic solution to this critical issue," referring to the nuclear row.

It marked a significant shift in U.S. policy under President Barack Obama, whose predecessor George W. Bush shunned direct talks with Iran as long as it continued with enrichment activity.

(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; writing by Fredrik Dahl, editing by Richard Williams)

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