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Tehran ready for nuclear talks after Ramadan

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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki gives a press conference at the Iranian embassy in Madrid, on July 13, 2010. (Getty Images)

July 26, 2010

ISTANBUL (KATAKAMI / DAILYSTAR.COM)   Iran will be ready to hold negotiations with world powers on its nuclear program after the month of Ramadan ends in early September, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday.

Separately, Mottaki said technical discussions could begin immediately in Vienna on the details of a proposed nuclear fuel swap and a letter to this effect would be delivered to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday.

The West fears Iran’s secretive uranium enrichment program is a veiled quest to develop nuclear weapons capability. Tehran insists it seeks only electricity from enrichment.

Mottaki said the talks after Ramadan would be between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France – as well as Germany (P5+1), which have been locked in a protracted standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. “That belongs to 5+1 with Iran,” he said of the talks.

Earlier on Sunday, Mottaki met the foreign ministers of Turkey and Brazil, their first meeting since the three struck a tentative swap accord in May that failed to prevent fresh UN sanctions against Iran.

Brazil and Turkey have characterized the proposed fuel deal as a way to build confidence for the broader negotiations involving the six world powers, represented for now by the EU’s foreign policy chief, on an overall nuclear settlement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier Mottaki had confirmed Iran was ready to start negotiations with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief.

Ashton wrote to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili last month inviting him to resume talks. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in the first half of September.

Iran agreed in May to send some of its enrichment uranium stockpile abroad in exchange for medical reactor fuel, reviving a deal in principle which the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, brokered in October, only to see Tehran back out of it.

On Saturday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  dubbed his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev the “mouthpiece” of Iran’s enemies, in the latest tirade born of rising differences between Tehran and Moscow.

“In a meeting with his ambassadors, he [Medvedev] said we have knowledge that Iran is moving toward the bomb,” Ahmadinejad was shown saying in footage broadcast by state television.

“We regret that Medvedev has become the mouthpiece for the plans of Iran’s enemies,” the hardline president said in the footage filmed at a gathering in Tehran on Friday.  (*)

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