Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Iran wants ‘constructive’ US input

AFP , TEHRAN

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili expressed optimism yesterday that weekend talks attended for the first time by the US over their nuclear standoff would be constructive, provided Washington came with the right approach.

“What is important for us is with what approach they come to the talks. If it is with a constructive approach, and that they refrain from past mistakes, then for sure we will have constructive talks,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency before leaving Tehran for Geneva.

Jalili is to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana today to discuss a package of incentives offered by world powers to Tehran.

And, in a major policy shift by Washington, US UnderSecretary of State William Burns will be at the talks.

US officials said this week that the “new tactic” amounted to sending a signal to Iran that Washington wanted a negotiated settlement to the deadlock over Iran’s refusal to bow to international demands.

Washington has long said it will not negotiate with Iran until it first suspends enrichment and insisted on Wednesday that Burns was travelling to Geneva to listen to Iran’s response and not negotiate.

Nonetheless, it will be the first time that the US, which severed relations with Iran in 1980 after the Islamic revolution, will be present in the negotiations aimed at persuading Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also expressed hope that the imminent talks would produce “positive developments” and voiced satisfaction at US involvement.

“The presence of an American delegate in Geneva will help the United States be informed directly,” Motataki said during a visit to Syria, Iran’s closest regional ally.

“We hope that the meeting in Geneva on Saturday will produce positive developments on the ground,” he told a news conference.

Western countries suspect that Iran is secretly trying to develop the atomic bomb and the UN has slapped several sets of sanctions on Tehran over its refusal to halt enrichment.

Iran vehemently denies seeking nuclear weapons.

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