EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton 311 (R).
(photo credit: Francois Lenoir / Reuters)
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator on Tuesday, accepting an offer to meet to discuss Tehran's nuclear program.
Ashton represents six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - in dealings with Iran, and her offer of talks came after weeks of consultations with them.
Iran proposed in February in a letter from Saeed Jalili that negotiations with global powers resume after more than a year of standstill, and said Tehran would have "new initiatives" to bring to the table.
"Today I have replied to Dr. Jalili's letter of Feb. 14," Ashton said in a statement. "I have offered to resume talks with Iran on the nuclear issue," she said.
Ashton and her counterparts are concerned that Tehran's nuclear work is aimed at producing weapons, and they want Iran to hold back on the program. Tehran says it is trying to develop nuclear power to meet rising electricity demand.
The time and venue for the talks will now have to be agreed, Ashton said.
Earlier Tuesday, Russia urged global powers
to hold new talks with Iran on its nuclear program as soon as possible, saying Tehran had proved it was ready for serious negotiations.
"I would like to underscore Russia's interest in the Iranian side and the 'group of six' reaching agreement on a date and site for the resumption of the negotiations process as quickly as possible," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
Iran offered last month to restart the talks but has also continued to pursue activities that have stoked fears it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, leaving Western powers wary of starting negotiations.