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Iranian nuke chief suggests talks in September

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Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has suggested in a letter to the European Union’s foreign affairs chief that talks could be held as soon as September on issues including Tehran’s nuclear program. The proposal is the first clear indication that Tehran is willing to engage with world powers on its atomic program since the United Nations imposed more sanctions on Iran last month, in an effort to halt Iranian uranium enrichment.

In the July 6 letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters press agency, Saeed Jalili asked Catherine Ashton for reassurances on three issues before any talks are held. These were that talks should aim to “engage and cooperate”, should be “committed to the rationale of dialogue”, and that Ashton should state her “position on the nuclear weapons of the Zionist Regime” – a reference to Israel, which does not confirm or deny that it has nuclear weapons.

“Your response to this context could set the ground for our talks starting September 2010 in the presence of other interested countries, in order to remove common global concerns for the purpose of achieving peace, justice and prosperity,” Jalili wrote. The letter was received on the same day that a senior Iranian government official acknowledged that sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the EU in the past month could slow progress on Tehran’s nuclear programme. “We cannot say the sanctions have no effect,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, was quoted as saying by Iran’s ISNA news agency.

Ashton, who is acting as a liaison for the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – the main nuclear negotiators, often referred to as the EU3+3 – has not said how she plans to respond to the letter. Tehran has in the past held out the possibility of talks only to hesitate or pull back, while still pursuing uranium enrichment. The EU3+3 have spent the past year employing what they refer to as a dual-track approach with Iran, threatening tighter sanctions while leaving the door open to negotiations.

source: Reuters

Tehran Review
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