Ashton, Russia call on Iran to agree to nuclear talks

EU foreign affairs chief and Russian Foreign Ministry urge Teheran to agree to talks on nuke program to be held in Vienna in November.

October 22, 2010 19:37
1 minute read.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Sec

catherine ashton 311. (photo credit: AP)

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called again on Iran to agree to hold talks with the West on its nuclear program next month, Reuters reported on Friday.

Ashton, in a letter to Iran's ambassador to the EU, urged Teheran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to agree to talks in Vienna from November 15-17.

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Russia also urged Iran on Friday to take up Ashton's original offer.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called on Teheran to agree to talks with the US, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany chaired by Ashton.

"We urge our Iranian friends and colleagues to officially respond in a positive manner to the invitation," Ryabkov said.

Iran has expressed interest in renewing talks if certain preconditions were to be met beforehand.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that discussions on the issue, should they be non-confrontational, could have positive, "fruitful" results.

He added that Iran was yet to hear back from Ashton on a letter sent to her by Jalili on July 6,  saying that a number of conditions would have to be met before the talks could resume.

"Once the direction of the negotiations becomes clear, Iran will be ready for talks on constructive international cooperation to remove common concerns," Jalili reportedly wrote.

Ashton suggested last Thursday that talks be held in Vienna "over three days in mid-November," with the participation of the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.

On Sunday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad endorsed the resumption of talks with the international community and added that the West had made the first step.

"They have come and said, 'We will negotiate,'" Ahmadinejad told a crowd of supporters in the northwestern city of Ardebil, about 370 miles (600 kilometers) northwest of Teheran. "We say, 'All right, we will negotiate with you.'"   

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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