Iran ready to talk nukes with EU

Aug. 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM
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TEHRAN, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- The Iranian government said Monday it's ready to resume nuclear negotiations with representatives from the European Union.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was ready to work with the new Iranian government on outstanding nuclear concerns.

"[Ashton] underlined her continued determination and commitment to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," the Sunday message said. "She confirmed the need for substantial talks that will lead to concrete results swiftly."

The Cabinet of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held its first meeting Sunday since he was sworn into office Aug. 3. Iranian lawmakers last week approved 15 of his 18 ministerial nominations for the former nuclear negotiator's inaugural term as president.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said he received Ashton's message with open arms.

"I reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran is willing to resume talks," he was quoted by Iranian broadcaster Press TV as saying. "In the phone conversation, I told Ms. Ashton that we favor a solution instead of merely engaging in talks."

Rouhani said he'd lead Iran as a moderate, vowing to put an end to a diplomatic policy centered on hostility toward the West.

Two rounds of nuclear negotiations ended in Kazakhstan this year with few breakthroughs. Iran is suspected of pursuing the technology needed to manufacture a nuclear weapon, an allegation the government denies.

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