Iran's Salehi says U.S. is changing approach to Tehran

Mon Feb 4, 2013 11:37am EST
 
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By Stephen Brown

BERLIN (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday he saw U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden's offer this weekend of bilateral dialogue between their two countries as a sign of a change in approach to Tehran by Washington.

Iran is embroiled in a long stand-off with big powers over its nuclear program. Tehran insists its atomic activity is for peaceful energy only while the United States and other powers suspect it of seeking the capability to build a nuclear weapon.

"As I have said yesterday, I am optimistic, I feel this new administration is really this time seeking to at least divert from its previous traditional approach vis-a-vis my country," Salehi told the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Salehi, who attended the Munich Security Conference at the weekend where Biden made the offer, said in Berlin that it was still very difficult for Tehran and Washington - more than 30 years after they severed relations - to trust each other.

"How do we trust again this new gesture?" he said.

Salehi said he hoped Barack Obama would keep what he said was a promise by the U.S. president to "walk away from wars ... and approaches that bring destruction, killings, bloodshed". He did not elaborate.

Negotiations between Iran and Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany over Tehran's nuclear activities have been deadlocked since a meeting last June.

European Union officials have accused Iran of dragging its feet in weeks of haggling over the date and venue for new talks.   Continued...

 
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi delivers a speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin February 4, 2013. Iran said on Sunday it was open to a U.S. offer of direct talks on its nuclear programme and that six world powers had suggested a new round of nuclear negotiations this month, but without committing itself to either proposal. REUTERS/Thomas Peter