Iran hints at nuclear talk progress, but world still wary of possible conflict
Optimistic comments from the Iranian foreign minister suggest that an accord with West may yet be reached.
Reuters reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in New York for a meeting at the UN, told reporters Wednesday that he did not think Israel or the United States would attack Iran before next January, when President Bush leaves office, and added that he saw a "new sort of atmosphere" in talks with the West over Iran's nuclear program.Skip to next paragraph
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Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Mottaki told reporters that "constructive statements and approaches" and an earlier proposal by Iran had "paved the way for creating a new sort of atmosphere."
On behalf of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana handed over an offer on June 14 of trade and other benefits designed to help persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear work.
"Very soon I will respond to the letter given to me by the six foreign ministers," Mottaki said at the United Nations.
CNN reports that Mottaki also suggested that Iran would be willing to open diplomatic contacts with the US. CNN notes that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has approved preliminary examination of opening an "interests office" in a third-party foreign embassy in Tehran. Such an office would open diplomatic channels with Iran in the absence of a US embassy.
"Contacts between Iranians and the American people will be a useful step for better understanding of the two nations," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. ...
Rice said recently that the United States has for some time been attempting to reach out to the Iranian people.
"We want more Iranians visiting the United States," she said. "We want the efforts that we've engaged in to have Iranian artists in the United States, American sports people in Iran. We're determined to find ways to reach out to the Iranian people."
Mottaki, in New York to attend a meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, said Iran supports academic and sports exchanges between the two countries, IRNA reported.
"Iranian academics and students have invited their American counterparts to the country to share their research and scientific achievements," Mottaki said, according to IRNA.