Iran Nuclear NewsIranian minister optimistic about EU talks

Iranian minister optimistic about EU talks

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ImageReuters: Iran's foreign minister on Sunday expressed optimism about what he said was a "new environment" for talks with major powers over its nuclear program.

By Peter Kaplan

ImageWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran's foreign minister on Sunday expressed optimism about what he said was a "new environment" for talks with major powers over its nuclear program.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said recent discussions over a package of incentives from major powers aimed at getting Iran to curb its nuclear enrichment program were "different from the previous discussions and negotiations."

"I believe that we are now in a new environment with a new approaching perspective," Mottaki said in an interview on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS.

The comments came two days after Iran delivered its response to the package of trade and other incentives proposed by the United States, China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France to Iran last month.

The six powers have told Iran that formal negotiations on the offer, which includes help to develop a civilian nuclear program, can start as soon as it suspends uranium enrichment.

Iran has thus far rejected that precondition, saying this violates its rights as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In the interview, Mottaki also sounded an optimistic note about future relations with the United States.

"We hear new voices in America. We see new approaches, and we think that the rational thinkers in America can, based on these new approaches, seek reality as it is. We are ready to help them in this endeavour," Mottaki said.

Asked specifically about Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, Mottaki declined to comment, saying Obama had run into trouble in the past for expressing a willingness to negotiate with Iran.

"So by commenting on this we do not want to create further problems for the U.S. presidential candidates," Mottaki said.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, says its nuclear activities are only aimed at generating power so it can export more oil but the United States and its European allies suspect Tehran is pursuing an atomic weapons project.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of mild sanctions on Iran over its refusal to comply with demands to suspend the enrichment of nuclear fuel. Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for power plants but also, if refined much more, provide material for nuclear bombs.

The row over Iran's nuclear work has sparked fears of military confrontation and helped push oil prices to record highs.

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