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Iran welcomes nuclear talks plan

Iranian technician works at Bushehr nuclear plant, 25 February 2009
Iran says it is developing nuclear power for civilian purposes

Iran has welcomed an offer of talks with six world powers over its nuclear programme, state television says.

Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili spoke to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and discussed the proposals, Iran's news agency ISNA said.

"[Iran] welcomes discussion with the group of six for a constructive cooperation", Mr Jalili said.

Last week the six - US, Russia, China, France, UK and Germany - said that they were inviting Tehran for talks.

The group's statement also reaffirmed its members' commitment to a "dual track" strategy, promising economic and political assistance if Iran agreed to international demands to halt uranium enrichment operations, but tighter sanctions if it did not.

Mr Jalili also said Iran would issue an official statement in response to the six powers' offer, Iranian state TV reported.

His response came days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran was open to talks, as long as they based on a platform of respect and justice for Iranian rights.

Iran denies it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon and says its nuclear programme is designed to generate electricity.

'New respect'

The talks are based on international concern that Iran's nuclear programme is a cover to build atomic weapons.

Tehran has continued to enrich uranium despite lengthy negotiations in recent years with major powers and despite the imposition of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

Progress has been slow, but new US President Barack Obama recently used a video message to offer "a new beginning" to the Iranian people and leaders.

While not openly accepting Mr Obama's overtures, Iran's president has sounded a more conciliatory tone in recent weeks.

Last week he told German news magazine Der Spiegel that Iran speaks "very respectfully" of Barack Obama

"But we are realists. We want to see real changes," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

Enriched uranium can be used in nuclear power plants, but can also be used to make the weapons.

But Tehran has always insisted it is developing nuclear power for civilian purposes.



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