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Iran says nuclear talks can succeed only if fair

Tehran showed renewed interest in a possible arrangement in May after talks with Turkey and Brazil.

September 23, 2010 1:44 by

Iran is ready to enter ‘fair’ negotiations with major powers over its nuclear activities, state radio quoted Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying.

Major powers said on Wednesday they hoped for an early negotiated solution to the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program, which the United States and its allies suspect is aimed at developing bombs, as well as fresh talks on a potential atomic fuel swap plan.

State radio quoted Mottaki as saying Iran, which insists it only wants nuclear power to generate electricity, had always favoured resolving the dispute through talks.

“The talks can succeed only if they are fair and if they recognise Iran’s right to use peaceful nuclear energy,” the radio quoted him as saying in New York on Wednesday.

It was not clear he was speaking before or after a statement from the foreign ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States, in which they called for an early resumption of talks.

A U.S. administration official said on Wednesday that Iran had given some signs of willingness to meet, but “we just need to pin it down”. Mottaki, however, did not indicate when any talks might take place.

The minister was accompanying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

The U.N. Security Council in June passed tough new sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. Iran derided the sanctions as a “used handkerchief”.

Since then, Western nations have repeatedly urged Iran to return to the negotiating table, but with little success. Officials from the six powers said there had been attempts to contact Iran about a possible future meeting.

A senior diplomat said that if Tehran refused to engage constructively with the six, they would probably return to the Security Council to consider further punitive steps against Iran, though that would not happen any time soon.

The statement said the six remained ready to talk to Iran about resuming a short-lived deal struck last October under which Iran would agree to move most of its enriched uranium out of the country, and would receive fuel in return to power a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Although Iran backed out of the October deal, Tehran showed renewed interest in a possible arrangement in May after talks with Turkey and Brazil.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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