Reuters: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says Italy is willing to be a go-between in international efforts to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
ROME (Reuters) – Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says Italy is willing to be a go-between in international efforts to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
"We spoke to the United States, with (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton. We tried to make ourselves helpful," he said in an interview with CNN International, referring to a trip Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was to have made to Tehran last week.
The trip was cancelled at the last minute after Iran demanded Frattini meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the same northern province where Iran launched a missile earlier in the day instead of in Tehran as planned.
Frattini would have been most senior official from a European government to visit Iran since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.
Italy, one of Iran's top trade partners in Europe, has been keen to play a more active role in the row over Iran's disputed nuclear program, although it is not one of the six world powers — the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — leading negotiations with Tehran.
"We are for dialogue but there must be a dialogue with certain time limitations … what we are certain of is that we cannot accept an Iran that has a nuclear bomb," Berlusconi said, according to a transcript released by his office Monday.
"In other situations we have been helpful, so even in this situation (concerning Iran) if we are asked we are willing to try to be helpful for the common good," he said in the interview, which was conducted Saturday.
Breaking with past U.S. policy of shunning direct talks with Iran, President Barack Obama's administration said it would join nuclear discussions with Tehran from now on.
Iran says it is ready for "constructive" talks but has rejected demands to halt sensitive uranium enrichment which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
Tehran says its nuclear program is intended only to generate electricity.