Reuters: A senior Iranian official was quoted by a state-run television website on Thursday as suggesting any talks with world powers would not address the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – A senior Iranian official was quoted by a state-run television website on Thursday as suggesting any talks with world powers would not address the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
The comments by Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, were published a day after world powers pressed Iran to meet them for talks on the nuclear dispute before a U.N. General Assembly meeting this month.
"It is wrong to think that possible talks with (the six world powers) would be about Iran's nuclear program," Soltanieh was quoted as saying by the website of al-Alam, a state-run television station.
"Iran's nuclear issue can only be examined at the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said.
Al-Alam, an Arabic-language service, said Soltanieh made the comments in an interview late on Wednesday.
Soltanieh said Tehran "was always ready to cooperate" with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to remove any doubts about its nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful power generation but which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, has repeatedly rejected demands to halt or freeze expansion of uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military purposes.
Citing Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Soltanieh said "international cooperation, energy security and global disarmament" were among international and regional topics that could be raised in discussions with the world powers.
Jalili was quoted by state television on Tuesday as saying Iran was ready to talk to world powers and that Tehran had prepared "an updated nuclear proposal."
On Wednesday, Germany hosted a meeting of senior officials of Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
Volker Stanzel, political director in the German Foreign Ministry, said after the meeting:
"With reference to Dr Jalili's statement this week that Iran is ready to resume talks, I expect Iran to respond to the offer of talks (made) in April by agreeing to meet before (the) UNGA (U.N. General Assembly)," Stanzel said.
A senior European official said the powers wanted such a meeting within about two weeks. There was disappointment that there had been no movement on the issue since April, he said.
The U.N. General Assembly meeting is on September 23-25.
(Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; Writing by Fredrik Dahl)