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11 Sep

Six Powers and Iran Agree to Meet

The decision to take up Iran’s offer was communicated publicly on Friday in Brussels

September 11, 2009

The US and five partner countries have accepted Iran’s offer to hold talks, even though Iran insisted it would not negotiate over its disputed nuclear programme, the US state department says.

Philip Crowley, a state department spokesman, said on Friday that Iran’s proposal for international talks, which was presented to the six powers on Wednesday, represented a chance to begin a direct dialogue.

“We are seeking a meeting now based on the Iranian paper to see what Iran is prepared to do,” Crowley said.

“And then, as the president [Barack Obama] has said, if Iran responds to our interest in a meeting, we’ll see when that can occur. We hope that will occur as soon as possible.”

Such a meeting could lessen immediate pressure on President Obama to abandon his diplomatic outreach to Tehran, which has yet to yield concrete results.

Limiting production

Obama said in July that Iran should show a willingness to negotiate limits on its nuclear programme by September or face consequences.

“Clearly, if Iran refuses to negotiate seriously, we – the United States and the international community and the Security Council – can draw conclusions from that. And then based on that, we’ll make some judgments in the future,” Crowley said.

In its proposal, Iran ignored a demand by the six world powers – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – for a freeze of its uranium enrichment, which is suspected of leading to production of a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists that its nuclear work is strictly for peaceful non-military purposes.

Iran pronounced itself ready to “embark on comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive negotiations”.

The decision to take up Iran’s offer was communicated publicly on Friday in Brussels, by Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, who is an intermediary for the six powers.

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