"We believe that the talks that are going forward is a positive sign. They provide an opportunity for the international community ... to have a discussion with the Iranian government about how they can live up to their obligations and demonstrate the peaceful intent of their nuclear program," he said. "I think nobody expects to resolve all differences in one meeting, but what we want is a positive environment where the Iranian government demonstrates its seriousness and its commitment to pursuing serious negotiations," Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Tampa, Fla.
When asked whether further discussions on Iran's nuclear ambitions will be held in Baghdad in May, Rhodes said it depends on how negotiations go Saturday.
"What we want to see is all parties coming to the table in a serious way, bringing forward their ideas for how Iran can convince the international community of the peaceful nature of its program and come in line with its obligations. It would be a positive step forward to see those negotiations continue," he said.
Foreign ministers from the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany were to meet with Iranian officials in Istanbul Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said foreign ministers agreed Iran must come to the meeting prepared to negotiate, Voice of America reported.
"We are receiving signals that they are bringing ideas to the table," Clinton said. "They assert that their program is purely peaceful. They point to a fatwa that the supreme leader has issued against the pursuit of nuclear weapons. We want them to demonstrate clearly in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition."
Chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili said Iranian representatives will bring "new initiatives" to Turkey and "are ready to hold successful and progressive talks on cooperation."
Clinton said the country must demonstrate its nuclear pursuits are purely peaceful, adding that diplomatic resolutions may not always be available to the country.
"We are looking for concrete results," she said. "And of course, in a negotiation, we understand that the Iranians will be asking for assurances or actions from us, and we will certainly take those under consideration."
Ultimate goals for the meeting are full disclosure of Iran's nuclear efforts and stronger controls through the United Nations's International Atomic Energy Agency, in return for nuclear assistance and other aid, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Further, Great Eight diplomats want Iran to halt production of 20 percent-refined uranium, to surrender their existing stockpile of 20 percent uranium and to shutter a new enrichment facility hidden inside a mountain near Qom.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi wrote in an op-ed piece to The Washington Post Thursday the talks in the Turkish capital could best succeed if all sides approach them as equals "based on mutual respect and justice."
A sign of mutual respect, he wrote, "is a willingness and readiness to both give and take, without preconditions."
"Most important, and this cannot be stressed enough, is that dialogue must be seen as a process rather than an event," he wrote. "A house can burn to the ground in minutes but takes a long time to build. Similarly, trust can easily and rapidly be broken, but it takes a long time to build."
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