Solana: EU open to new talks with Iran

Foreign policy chief picks up the gauntlet after Iranian FM's declared willingness to talk.

solana iran 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
solana iran 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The European Union remains open to further talks with Teheran over its nuclear enrichment program, the bloc's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Monday, a day after Iran's foreign minister said his country was ready to negotiate. Despite the approval of new UN sanctions against Iran last week, the international community wants to resume negotiations to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions, Solana said. "A new resolution has been approved, and at the same time, we want to continue on the negotiating track," Solana told reporters at EU foreign ministers' talks in Brussels. On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country is ready to negotiate with Solana if there could be "meaningful and effective" results. But Solana said he has not been approached by Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, to resume talks. A third round of sanctions on Iran orders UN nations to freeze the assets of more Iranian officials and companies with links to the country's nuclear and missile program. The sanctions also banned trade with Iran in some goods that have both civilian and military use. However, the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, along with Germany, also promised an improved package of incentives for Iran to restart negotiations with Solana - if Teheran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment. "It's only there if Iran ceases to confront the international community in respect to its uranium enrichment program," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters. "The almost unanimous vote last week ... in the UN Security Council was very significant and I hope there is a very clear message to the people of Iran that we want contact, we want engagement," Miliband said. "But Iran should know that it cannot set off an arms race in the Middle East which obviously has even more dangerous consequences for a region that already has too much violence."