Saturday, June 24, 2006

We Can Talk if Iran Stop Enrichment

Independent Online:
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reminded Iran on Saturday that it must halt nuclear enrichment if it wanted to begin negotiations with six world powers on an offer of incentives made to Tehran.

"I can only reiterate and urge Iran to implement very quickly a suspension of enrichment to enable negotiations to begin," he told reporters in Berlin after a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. READ MORE

Mottaki, however, appeared to reject any demand that it temporarily stop enrichment - a process of purifying uranium for use in nuclear power plants or weapons - saying Iran did not want any conditions to be imposed on the start of talks.

"We welcome negotiations without pre-conditions," he said.

Mottaki described his talks with Steinmeier as constructive but reiterated that the offer of incentives delivered to Iran earlier this month by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana had some ambiguities as well as good elements.

"The packaged offer by the six countries is being very seriously examined by Iran. We see very positive points in this offer. There are also naturally unclear points and we will have questions," he said.

Solana will meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in the near future and Steinmeier said he hoped Solana would be able to answer all of the Iranians' questions about the offer.

The United States, Britain, Germany and France, - have made it clear they want an answer from Iran by the July 15-17 summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrial nations in St Petersburg, Russia.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week Iran would give its answer by August 22, prompting US President George Bush to complain that Iran was dragging its feet.

Mottaki gave no indication of when Tehran would formally respond to the offer.

"Immediately after we have examined the offer we will inform our European partners of the result," he said.