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Rice says Iran must meet US conditions for talks


Washington : US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday that early talks between the US and Iran, set to begin this weekend, will only go forward after Iran meets enrichment preconditions.

Rice described the decision to send a top US diplomat, William Burns, to weekend talks with an Iranian envoy as a “tactical decision” to receive a reply from the Iranian government to an international request for Tehran to the shut down its nuclear program and suspend nuclear enrichment and reprocessing efforts.

In a break from policy, Burns, the third-highest ranking State Department officials will join European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana and diplomats from other permanent United Nations Security Council member countries and Germany, to meet with Iranian representative Saeed Jalili, in Geneva this weekend.

At the State Department news conference, Rice said she hopes this gesture will be enough to prompt an Iranian commitment to stop uranium enrichment, and allow for US-Iranian diplomatic negotiations to go forward.

“The United States doesn’t have any permanent enemies. And we hope that the signal that we’re sending, that we fully support the track that Iran could take for a better relationship with the international community, is one that the United States stands fully behind,” said Rice.

However, “The United States has a condition for the beginning of negotiations with Iran. And that condition remains the verifiable suspension of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing activities,” Rice added.

While Rice maintained Iran was a “difficult and dangerous state,” she believed any country could change course.

The US has shunned direct talks with Iran over it’s nuclear program. In 2002, President George W. Bush branded Iran a member of the “axis of evil”.