Reuters: Iran expects talks on its disputed nuclear programme to begin within days, a senior Iranian official said in remarks published on Wednesday.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran expects talks on its disputed nuclear programme to begin within days, a senior Iranian official said in remarks published on Wednesday.
"Now the West has accepted to start negotiations with Iran and this is the best way," Mohammad Saeedi said when asked about possible talks with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "Our diplomacy is based on negotiations."
Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, was quoted by Fars news agency as saying: "Talks will start in the next few days and at that time many issues will become clear."
Solana is acting as envoy for six world powers which have offered Iran nuclear, trade and other incentives to coax it into halting sensitive nuclear activities. Western nations fear Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this.
Western diplomats, citing conditions in the incentives package, say world powers have only offered full negotiations if Iran suspends uranium enrichment — a demand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has since called "illegitimate".
The diplomats say the powers — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have offered to hold preliminary talks to discuss modalities for formal discussions.
Even those preliminary talks, they say, will require Tehran to freeze any expansion of its nuclear programme in return for the U.N. Security Council halting further sanctions measures. Iran has given no indication it will accept a freeze.
Western powers worry in particular that Iran's uranium enrichment-related programme will be used to make material for nuclear weapons. Oil-rich Iran insists it is only mastering the technology so it can produce fuel for power plants.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the six powers would send Solana back to Iran to discuss the incentives package which the EU official delivered to the Iranian capital last month.
Sarkozy did not say when Solana would travel to Tehran. Iran formally replied on Friday to the incentives offer. France said the response ignored the demand for suspending enrichment.
(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Writing by Edmund Blair, Editing by Alistair Lyon)