Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Iran hails start of ‘new era’ with nuclear talks

RAPPROCHEMENT?Talks will be held between the foreign ministers of Iran, the US and other major powers, and Obama may meet with Iran’s president at the UN

Reuters and AFP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, and UNITED NATIONS

A meeting between Iran’s top diplomats and world powers at the UN this week will start a “new era” in efforts to end the dispute with the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, the Iranian foreign ministry said yesterday.

It did not hint at any concessions by Tehran.

The EU said on Monday that Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif would join a meeting of major powers — including the US, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — to discuss the Iranian nuclear program.

The meeting, scheduled for tomorrow and expected to include US Secretary of State John Kerry, would be the highest-level encounter involving the two nations since relations were severed in 1980 at the height of the US embassy hostage crisis.

“These talks are the start of a new era. The Islamic Republic has explicitly stated its views regarding its rights to peaceful nuclear energy and the right to enrich [uranium] on Iranian territory,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told a news conference, Mehr news agency reported.

High-level contacts between Iranian and US officials have been rare since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

However, in another sign of a possible thaw, the White House said it was not ruling out a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on the sidelines of this week’s UN General Assembly.

The encounter between Zarif and Kerry comes as Iran calls for the easing of crippling international sanctions over its uranium enrichment.

Rowhani said in a US television interview last week that Iran would “never” build a nuclear bomb, but the US and its allies still believe Tehran wants that capability and are waiting for signs that Rowhani is serious about better relations.

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