Iran-EU nuclear talks start (Lead)

July 19th, 2008 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 19 (IANS) Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana Saturday started a new round of talks on Tehran’s nuclear issue here with the US envoy attending, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported. Undersecretary of State William Burns is the first high level US diplomat attending talks with Iran after Washington severed ties with Tehran in 1980 in the wake of the Islamic revolution.

Solana and Jalili will discuss Iran’s response to a package of incentives and cooperation offered by five veto powers plus Germany in return of Tehran’s suspension of enrichment activities.

Also present are representatives from five veto powers Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States - and Germany.

Iran so far had given no indication that it would suspend uranium enrichment activities - the main demand in the package, but had said it was open to talks.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday that by sending Burns to the talks the US has not relaxed its precondition that Iran first stop enrichment before Washington could negotiate.

Jalili Friday had expressed optimism that the talks would be constructive, provided Washington came with a “constructive approach”.

“What is important for us is with what approach they come to the talks. If it is with a constructive approach, and they refrain from past mistakes, then for sure we will have constructive talks,” he said in Tehran Friday before leaving for Geneva.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki welcomed as “positive” the US presence at the Geneva talks.

The US participation is “a new positive approach”, Mottaki said after talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan.

“I hope this progress will also have impact on the content of the talks,” he said, adding: “If the negotiations continue in this way, I hope there will be a positive outcome.”

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