Iran ready for confidence-building steps in nuclear talks

    By DPA,

    Tehran : Iran was ready to build up confidence in international talks on the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme next week in Istanbul, acting foreign minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Friday.

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    “We hope that confidence between Iran and the six powers will eventually be established and we are ready to take every necessary confidence-building step in this regard,” Salehi told the ISNA news agency.

    Salehi’s remarks contradict those he made in a newspaper interview Wednesday, saying Iran would not discuss the nuclear dispute in Istanbul with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the six powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.

    Iran insists the six powers must acknowledge Tehran’s stance as legitimate and its right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology.

    “We would welcome any logical approach by the other side on the nuclear issue,” said Salehi, who is also chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.

    Chief nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili will lead the Iranian delegation.

    Jalili has several times said that Iran would not discuss the nuclear dispute, which is the main concern of the six powers, but only exploring ways for mutual cooperation to tackle global and political challenges.

    Observers consider such remarks to be rhetoric as Iran is aware that no mutual cooperation is possible without first settling the nuclear dispute.

    Iran had invited Ashton on behalf of the six negotiators to visit its nuclear sites before the Istanbul talks. Ashton – and the six – rejected the invitation, saying experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should conduct inspections, not diplomats.

    Instead representatives and IAEA ambassadors from Venezuela, Syria, Egypt and Cuba, who have no role in the nuclear negotiations, are supposed to come to Tehran.

    While rejecting any Western worries about a secret military project, Iran said the tour is a sign of goodwill and proof that the Islamic state is conducting its nuclear work transparently.