WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. and European officials signaled that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program may resume for the first time in over a year.
The potential for resumed discussions came after an Iranian official dropped previously unacceptable preconditions for talks in a letter this week, The New York Times reported.
Saeed Jalili, Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, declared his country's "readiness for dialogue" at "the earliest possibility."
"I'm cautious and I'm optimistic at the same time for this," the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said Friday.
"We must be assured that if we make a decision to go forward, we see a sustained effort by Iran to come to the table, to work until we have reached an outcome that has Iran coming back into compliance with their international obligations," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Meanwhile, the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, also known as Swift, said in a statement on its Web site that it was "ready to implement sanctions against Iranian financial institutions."
"A clear multilateral legal framework in relation to international financial sanctions against Iran is emerging," the Swift statement said. It added Swift was also "closely following the progress" of a bill under consideration in the United States Senate that has similar intentions.
"Swift appears to have made the right decision to end its relationships with sanctioned Iranian institutions," United Against Nuclear Iran, a New York-based group that has been pushing for stricter sanctions, said in a statement.