Iran's top nuclear negotiator on Monday said if the United States made a formal request for talks, Iran would respond positively but would not accept conditions placed on such discussions, the country's official news agency reported.
The Islamic Republic News Agency said Ari Larijani, who was in South Africa Monday, was responding to comments made by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said Sunday that the US would hold direct talks with Iran if Teheran suspended its nuclear program.
Larijani said Iran would welcome negotiations if the US offered them through an official message but would not agree to conditions. Iran has repeatedly said it would not freeze enrichment as a precondition to holding talks on its nuclear program.
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"Setting conditions means indicating the outcome of talks prior to holding them. Therefore, such a policy has not been answerable," IRNA quoted Larijani as saying.
In Washington, US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the offer has been transmitted several times to Larijani by Javier Solana, foreign policy chief of the European Union.
"As the secretary reiterated on Sunday, at any time Iran suspends enrichment, she is ready to sit down" with Larijani and the others involved in the situation, the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
Larijani's comments come a day after hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would press ahead with uranium enrichment, describing Teheran's path as a train without brakes.