Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer said Tuesday that Iran would benefit by complying with a UN Security Council resolution calling on the country to suspend uranium enrichment.
Fischer said Iran's compliance would reassure the international community that it was not seeking to produce an atomic bomb and would also increase support for Teheran's peaceful nuclear activities.
"If Iran heeds the call of the international community and cooperates, no country in the world will ignore Iran's legitimate rights and its strategic importance," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Fischer as saying Tuesday.
Fischer also commented on the Israel-Hizbullah fighting in Lebanon.
"An immediate cease-fire is necessary," IRNA quoted Fischer as saying. He also said the wider peace process should involve Israel returning to its 1967 borders.
Fischer, who was German foreign minister from 1998 to 2005, is highly regarded in the region. His icebreaking visit to Teheran in March 2000 paved the way for European Union talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
Fischer made his remarks at the Teheran Center of Strategic Studies, where he was participating in a closed session of a round table.
Fischer said Iran's right to nuclear technology was not being questioned.
"Europe recognizes and respects Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy but Iran's haste in building a heavy water reactor and uranium enrichment of over 3.5 percent has caused concern in Europe," IRNA quoted Fischer as saying.
He was referring to construction of a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor in Arak, central Iran, and Iran's uranium enrichment activities in Natanz, another town also in central Iran.
Germany's former top diplomat said Iran won't need nuclear fuel to operate its planned nuclear power plants for the next ten years but was still insisting on enriching uranium.
Russia is putting the finishing touches on Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr. Moscow will provide nuclear fuel to operate the plant.
The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Teheran maintains its program is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
The Security Council passed a resolution Monday giving Iran until Aug. 31 to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.