Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Saturday, 12 September 2009 10:45 UK

US open to Iran's offer of talks

Isfahan nuclear plant, file pic
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes

The US says it is willing to accept an offer from Iran for talks on a wide range of issues.

Tehran offered "comprehensive and constructive negotiations" on Wednesday, but did not mention the key issue of its nuclear programme.

While stressing the offer "does not address our nuclear concerns" the US said it is was ready to "test Iran's willingness to engage".

On Friday, Russia warned against taking any military action against Iran.

The US has been urging Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, which Washington says could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Iran has always insisted its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes only.


US state department spokesman PJ Crowley said that Iran had released a paper showing it was "open to dialogue", although he added that: "The paper itself does not address our nuclear concerns."

Mr Crowley said: "We will seek an early meeting and we will seek to test Iran's willingness to engage.

"If we have a meeting, we're going to bring up the nuclear issue, and we'll see how Iran responds to that."

Earlier, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana had said he was seeking an urgent meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

The P+5 Group - the UK, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany - have a longstanding offer on the table of diplomatic incentives in return for the suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment.

Iran has always defended its right to continue its nuclear programme.

Tehran again ignored the issue in its Wednesday paper, but offered to "embark on comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive negotiations".

Before coming into office US President Barack Obama had vowed to engage more with Iran.

On Friday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned against any military action targeting Iran or the imposition of new sanctions to curb its nuclear programme.

Mr Putin said any attack on Iran would be "very dangerous, unacceptable and would lead to "an explosion of terrorism".

But he called on Tehran to "show restraint" in its nuclear programme.

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