AFP: The United States on Friday welcomed the planned renewal of talks between the European Union and Iran aimed at ending an international showdown over Tehran’s nuclear program. WASHINGTON, April 20, 2007 (AFP) – The United States on Friday welcomed the planned renewal of talks between the European Union and Iran aimed at ending an international showdown over Tehran’s nuclear program.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey urged Iran in the talks to agree to meet United Nations demands it suspend its nuclear enrichment program so that multinational negotiations on the issue can begin.
Casey was responding to the announcement in Brussels and Tehran that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will hold fresh talks with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani on April 25.
“Certainly we support those continued contacts between Mr Solana and Mr Larijani,” he said, noting that Solana is the designated representative of the so-called P5-plus-1 nations which have been pressing a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
The grouping comprises Germany plus the five permanent UN Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
“What we would hope would come out of that meeting would be an agreement by the Iranians to meet the very simple terms and conditions laid out by the international community that would allow us to begin negotiations with them on their nuclear program,” Casey said.
The Security Council has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to comply with demands issued last year that it suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing work.
Iran insists the program, which it has accelerated in recent months in defiance of the UN, is aimed only at producing fuel for civilian nuclear power generation — an activity it is allowed as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But the international community suspects Iran will use the program to produce the highly enriched uranium needed to produce nuclear bombs.
The six-nation grouping has offered to negotiate a package of economic and energy incentives as well as improved relations with the West if Iran will suspend its enrichment work.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has promised to personally attend such negotiations — ending a 27-year-old rupture in US-Iranian relations — if it meets the conditions.
Solana and Larijani talk regularly by telephone but their last face-to-face meeting was in Munich, Germany on February 11.