Iran envoy: Talks 'window of opportunity'

Sept. 17, 2009 at 5:42 PM
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VIENNA, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- An Iranian nuclear negotiator tells The Washington Post upcoming talks including the United States are a "new window of opportunity."

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, insisted in an interview late Wednesday that Iran has a right to nuclear power and said the United States and its allies should not try to ratchet up sanctions. But his characterization of the talks, which also include Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, suggests Iran is prepared to put its nuclear program on the table.

"The whole thing is being done with good intentions," Soltanieh said, talking in the office of his mission in Vienna. "This is the best course of action, and this is a real, new window of opportunity that is being opened by the Iranian nation."

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been careful to play down expectations of the talks, the first in more than a year.

"If you use the policy of the carrot and stick, if use the dual track of sanctions and dialogue, this is counterproductive -- this is humiliation, if you really know Iranian culture," Soltanieh said. "If you tell me, 'You must,' I say 'no.' If you say 'please,' the answer might be 'yes' or 'maybe.'"

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