West Cautious as Iran Says Ready to Resolve Nuclear Concerns
April 16, 2012
Iran's foreign minister says Tehran is ready to resolve concerns over its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.
Ali Akbar Salehi told the Iranian student news agency that Iran would always assert its right to process uranium, but that Iran is open to negotiations about the percentage of enrichment levels.
He said Saturday's meeting with diplomats from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia) plus Germany were constructive.
Meanwhile, Reuters news agency reports Denmark's foreign minister as saying there is no room for easing sanctions on Iran until it takes steps to comply with demands on its nuclear program. Denmark holds the European Union's rotating presidency.
A number of countries suspect Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday insisted his administration did not "give away anything" to Iran during the latest round of nuclear talks in Turkey.
Speaking to reporters in Cartagena, Colombia, where he attended the Summit of the Americas, Mr. Obama defended Washington's decision to continue to push for a diplomatic resolution of the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
He said that while he refused to let the negotiations turn into a "stalling process," he was willing to give diplomacy one last chance.
President Obama was responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said earlier Sunday that the U.S. and world powers gave Tehran a "freebie" by agreeing to hold another round of talks next month in Baghdad.
International pressure on Iran has been increasing. New U.S. and European Union economic sanctions are due to go into effect July 1, while Israel has warned it may take military action to stop what it believes is a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.
The previous round of talks between the world powers and Iran collapsed 15 months ago.
U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes called Saturday's discussions in Istanbul a "positive first step" and the plans to hold another meeting in May an "additional positive sign."
When asked what message Israel should take from the meeting in Turkey, Rhodes said the U.S. and Israel have communicated "a sense of urgency," that time is not unlimited. He said the two countries have also stressed the need for concrete confidence-building steps by Iran.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.
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