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U.S. open to diplomacy with Iran

Jan. 19, 2012 at 4:59 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Officials in Washington expressed readiness for diplomatic discussions with Iran, if the country is willing to disclose the extent of its nuclear program.

"We have always expressed a willingness to try to do that," U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

Panetta was responding to a report from Iran that President Barack Obama proposed direct communication in a letter passed to Iranian officials, CNN reported.

The letter, officials said, reiterated the Obama Administration's stance that blocking the Strait of Hormuz would be a "red line" for the United States, but also suggested establishing a direct channel of communications to ensure no miscalculations escalate the situation.

"If you, Iran, are prepared to engage seriously and come clean about your nuclear program and demonstrate to the world that you have no military intent," the United States is open to engagement, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday.

Officials said the choice to talk is now Iran's.

"There is a path here towards renewed talks and a path here for Iran to pursue if it so chooses, that would allow it to get right with the international community," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

But Carney added, "Iran has shown no inclination thus far to make that choice, to make that decision."

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