Iran: Ready for Nuclear Talks, Rejects 'Language of Force'
26 August 2006
Iran says it is ready for international talks on its nuclear program, but has rejected what it calls the West's "language of force" regarding the issue.
Senior Iranian cleric Ahmad said Friday that Tehran was open to negotiations, but would not bow to threats from the United States and its European allies.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says the 25-nation bloc is seeking new talks with Tehran to clarify its response to a U.N. package of incentives for suspending its uranium enrichment program.
Earlier, French President Jacques Chirac called Iran's response to the incentive package "ambiguous."
The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last month mandating Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities by August 31st or risk sanctions.
A State Department spokesman, Gonzago Gallegos, said Washington will push for sanctions if Iran does not halt the sensitive nuclear work by an August 31 U.N. deadline.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, however, says it is premature to talk about sanctions. He said more time should be given to resolve the dispute through negotiations.
Meanwhile, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told a gathering in Tokyo Friday that mounting pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program is threatening to create another crisis in the Middle East.
Khatami, a reformist who was Iran's president from 1997 to 2005, repeated Tehran's claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, and not as a cover for obtaining nuclear weapons as the West alleges.
Khatami is scheduled to visit Washington next month.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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