By NAZILA FATHI
TEHRAN - Iran is willing to talk with the United States about its nuclear program if Washington treats it as an equal partner, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Tuesday.
"If negotiations are on the basis of equality and mutual respect in the same way we are talking to Europeans now, there is no reason not to talk to others," Mr. Kharrazi said in response to a question at a joint news conference with South Africa's visiting foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Mr. Kharrazi's conciliatory comments came a day after Iran opened talks in Brussels with Germany, France and Britain on nuclear, economic and security cooperation.
He said Iran was following the talks "very seriously" and hoped Europe would keep its promises.
Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program in return for European assistance in peaceful nuclear technology.
Washington, which does not have diplomatic relations with Tehran, suspects Iran of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program.
"The talks are very serious and both parities know the talks should continue," Mr. Kharrazi said of the meetings in Brussels.
"If we see the talks are waste of time and have no results," he said, "we will definitely make our own decisions. We can tell three months from now whether the talks are useful and can provide Iran's rights to have access to peaceful nuclear technology."
In Washington, a State Department official, responding to Mr. Kharrazi's comments, said the United States "has never been opposed to discussing things with Iran when something useful can be accomplished."
But he said that on the nuclear issue, Iran had "not done anything to lead one to believe that would serve a useful purpose."
American policy is to support the European negotiations with Iran, but the Bush administration remains skeptical that talks can achieve any results.