Ahmadinejad endorses new nuclear talks with West

Iranian president tells supporters Western countries made first step, warns failure will show support for "Zionist regime's atomic bomb."

ahmadinejad peace out 311 (photo credit: AP)
ahmadinejad peace out 311
(photo credit: AP)
TEHERAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday endorsed the resumption of talks with the international community about his country's nuclear program, the latest in Teheran's recently intensified push to get those negotiations going again.
The talks foundered a year ago and months later, a fourth round of UN sanctions was imposed on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment — a program the West is concerned masks Iranian ambitions for making nuclear weapons.
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Ahmadinejad said Iran is ready to resume the talks 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.'"
He gave no timeframe for the talks.
EU's foreign affairs and security chief, Catherine Ashton, suggested last Thursday the talks be held in Vienna "over three days in mid-November," with the participation of the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.
Ashton issued the statement soon after meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Brussels.
At the rally in Ardebil, Ahmadinejad warned the West the talks with Iran would not make progress unless the West clarifies its stance over Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal — an apparent attempt to deflect attention from Iran's nuclear program.
If this doesn't happen, the West will show it "supports the Zionist regime's atomic bomb and is not seeking to have a friendship (with Iran) through the talks," Ahmadinejad added.
"If you choose this path, your achievement in the talks will be the same as before," Ahmadinejad said, addressing the international community. "You will not gain an iota more."