Iran: ready for nuclear talks in late Oct/early Nov

Sat Oct 9, 2010 3:17pm EDT
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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is ready to hold talks with six major powers over its nuclear program "in late October or early November," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday.

"We think late October or early November will be an appropriate date for the talks by the representatives of Iran and 5+1 countries," Mottaki told a news conference.

He gave no details about the venue of the talks. Western officials say they could take place in Vienna or Geneva.

"If Iran is ready to hold talks, all they need to do is pick up the phone and set a date," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- as well as Germany -- meant to address concerns about Tehran's uranium enrichment, stalled in October last year, leading to a toughening of international sanctions.

A spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was no official date set for nuclear talks with Iran.

"This is news to us. There has been no official date set for talks, nor has there been any official correspondence received by ... Ashton or her services with regard to a date for talks," the spokesman said.

Ashton "remains ready to talk and is hopeful this can happen very soon," he said.

The United States and its European allies fear Iran's declared civilian nuclear energy program is a cover to develop the capability of producing nuclear weapons.   Continued...