Iran Nuclear NewsIran says powers agree to nuclear talks after vote

Iran says powers agree to nuclear talks after vote

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ImageReuters: Iran has told world powers including the United States talks on its nuclear program must wait until after the Islamic Republic's presidential election on June 12, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday.

By Zahra Hosseinian

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has told world powers including the United States talks on its nuclear program must wait until after the Islamic Republic's presidential election on June 12, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said in April they would invite Iran to a meeting to try to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute.

Breaking with past U.S. policy of shunning direct talks with Iran, President Barack Obama's administration said it would join nuclear discussions with Tehran from now on.

Iran says it is ready for "constructive" talks but has rejected demands to halt sensitive uranium enrichment which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Tehran says its nuclear program is intended only to generate electricity.

Ahmadinejad, who says Iran will never bow to outside pressure on the nuclear issue, faces a challenge in the election from moderates seeking better ties with the West.

"We said we will have no talks before the election. They were insisting to hold negotiations before the election," Ahmadinejad told a news conference for Iranian media broadcast live and translated by Iran's English-language Press TV.

"They called several times … and Mr. Obama finally accepted and said 'Ok, let's do it after the election'," he said.

Ahmadinejad said last month Iran had prepared its own proposals to end the stalemate.

"That package of ours is prepared and we will send it to them soon," he said on Saturday, saying it was based on "clear-cut principles accepted by all wise people" but giving no details.

"WORLD IS WAITING"

He was speaking five days after Obama set a rough timetable for his diplomatic outreach to Iran for the first time, saying he wanted to see serious progress by the end of the year.

Iran says it wants to see a real policy shift after Obama's predecessor George W. Bush spearheaded a drive to isolate it.

"The world is waiting to see change in the United States," Ahmadinejad said. "They cannot … impose any timing on Iran."

Reformist rivals accuse Ahmadinejad of isolating Tehran with his anti-Western rhetoric. He says they are trying to weaken Iran by wanting a policy of detente with the West.

It was unclear whether Iran's counter-offer in the nuclear dispute announced by Ahmadinejad would be essentially different from previous ill-fated exchanges.

The six powers originally offered Iran economic and political incentives in 2006 in exchange for the suspension of enrichment. Iran's response hinted at some flexibility but ruled out suspension as a precondition for talks as stipulated by the six powers.

In June last year the six improved the offer but retained the precondition. In reply, Iran said it wanted to negotiate a broader peace and security deal and rejected any "condescending" formula to shelve its nuclear program.

(Writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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