TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran is prepared to hold negotiations or even reopen diplomatic ties with the United States as long as Washington set no preconditions, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in an interview published on Tuesday.
“We have always said that we were ready to have negotiations. On the nuclear issue, we said that they needed to withdraw the precondition of a suspension before negotiating.” Mottaki told the Etemad Melli newspaper.
Mottaki was referring to US demands Iran suspends uranium enrichment, a sensitive nuclear process that can be diverted to make nuclear weapons and Iran is refusing to freeze. Iran denies US accusations it wants an atomic bomb.
“We do not have any problems to negotiate or to have relations (with the United States) but this needs to be in a logical framework based on the independence of the country and the values of the Islamic Republic,” he said.
While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has insisted she is ready for talks with Mottaki, Washington has always maintained Tehran must halt its uranium enrichment activities first.
Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic relations since Washington severed ties in 1980 in the wake of the seizure of its embassy in Tehran by Islamist students.
Any official contacts between the two sides would mark a breakthrough in the frozen relations, which have been scarred by mutual recriminations and enmity over almost three decades.
Diplomats from the United States and Iran are expected to attend a conference on Iraq’s security in Baghdad on March 10, but Tehran has said there will be no bilateral contacts at the event.