Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Are Iran Nuclear Program Talks Back On?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Are Iran Nuclear Program Talks Back On?

Article excerpt

Iran's foreign minister said Friday that his country welcomes a proposal from the European Union's top diplomat to resume talks on its nuclear program. The invitation is for November, but no date set.

A mid-November return to the diplomatic table is looking increasingly likely for Iran and the group of world powers seeking to stop the Iranian regime from building a nuclear bomb from its atomic energy program.

No dates have been set, but Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said Friday that his country welcomes a proposal a day earlier by the European Union's top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, for the two sides to meet in Vienna for three days of talks in mid- November.

Mr. Mottaki's positive words concerning a resumption of talks that broke off a year ago were the strongest indication yet - amid a spike in speculation since August - that a return to the negotiating table may be imminent.

Talks between Iran and the group of powers known as the P5 + 1 - the United Nations Security Council's five permanent members, the United States, Russia, China, France, and Great Britain, plus Germany - broke off last October after Iran rejected a deal for moving much of its stockpiled enriched uranium out of the country. Since then, the Security Council has approved a fourth round of economic sanctions against Iran as a means of drawing it back to talks on its nuclear program.

The statement by Lady Ashton, the EU's high representative for security and foreign policy, was issued shortly after Ashton met in Brussels with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Secretary Clinton was in Brussels briefly, at the end of a swing through the Balkan countries, to preview a meeting Friday of the group of countries formed two years ago to assist Pakistan with economic development and security issues.

Ashton and Clinton did not mention Iran in brief remarks Thursday focused on the Pakistan meeting. Mottaki also made his comments in Brussels, where he, too, is taking part in the "friends of Pakistan" meeting. …

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