Ahmadinejad: Iran Welcomes Serious Talks

A04191694.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Sunday described diplomacy as the only way to end the nuclear standoff between his country and the West, and insisted that Tehran is serious about negotiations.

The president made the comments at a joint press conference with visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran on Sunday, a day after asserting that his country would not give up its “nuclear rights”.

Ahmadinejad said Saturday that his country’s participation in any international talks would “be aimed at reinforcing” what Iran regards as its right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to enrich uranium for a civilian power program.

On Sunday, Ahmadinejad said that Iran has always been willing to solve the long-standing crisis over its disputed nuclear programs through negotiations.

He repeated that his country was “serious in nuclear talks” and hopes “the other side” will be as well.

“We are serious in the negotiations and we hope that negotiations will take place in a stable and lawful method and will bring practical and concrete results,” he said.

“We hope the others are serious, too, and that they are ready to discuss various global and regional issues and move toward peace and security.”

Ahmadinejad’s remarks come as the world powers await Tehran’s official response to their latest proposal to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities.

In a meeting in Geneva on July 19, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany offered Iran a package of economic incentives in return for Iran’s pledge to freeze uranium-enrichment activities.

At the time, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the EU is expecting Tehran’s “clear answer in about two weeks’ time.” That would suggest an informal deadline of August 2 for Tehran to give its response to the proposal.

News agencies have quoted EU officials in Brussels as saying Tehran’s answer may come on August 4. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, however, has said no deadline had been set.

On August 2, Ahmadinejad said there would be no retreat from the Iranian side in the nuclear dispute.

He said, “in whichever negotiations we take part…it is unequivocally with the view to the realization of Iran’s nuclear right and the Iranian nation will not retreat one iota from its rights.”

Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, visited Iran during the weekend but played down any expectations that he could persuade Syria’s close ally to meet Western demands.

Assad said the visit was a regular one, not for mediating in Iran’s nuclear issue. However, he said they discussed Iran’s nuclear stances.

“I have not come to the Islamic Republic as a mediator or as an envoy,” Assad said. “And I am not carrying any message from any Western officials to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Besides, I’ve not visited Iran in the framework of nuclear issues, but the nuclear issue was a part of our negotiations. In every other negotiation with other top Iranian officials we have discussed the nuclear issue.”

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