INTERNATIONAL

Iran welcomes N-talks with world powers

Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Iran has announced that it will present a fresh set of proposals toresolve its row with major countries over its nuclear enrichment programme.Welcoming the offer of talks under a new format, an official Iranianstatement did not elaborate on the proposals. However, Iranian PresidentMahmoud Ahmadinejad had earlier said the Iranian response to the April 8invitation for talks would elaborate on Tehran's earlier offer announced inMay 2008. At that time, it had been suggested that international consortiato enrich uranium and manufacture nuclear fuel should be established,provided they included Iran as a participant.

During a recent visit to Kazakhstan, Mr. Ahmadinejad had welcomed the ideaof establishing a global nuclear fuel bank, monitored by the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Kazakhstan. "We think that [KazakhPresident] Nursultan Nazarbayev's idea to host a nuclear fuel bank is a verygood proposal," he had said after talks with the Kazakh leader earlier thismonth.

Contrary to the general approach adopted by the Bush administration, theUnited States has now said it would also be a party to talks which comprisedthe rest of the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.Analysts say it is likely that Iran would attempt to turn the coming talksinto a broad-based dialogue that would link discussions over its nuclearprogramme to new initiatives to resolve key global problems. The head ofIran's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Parliament(Majlis) Alaeddin Boroujerdi had earlier said that Iran would like todiscuss major international issues during the talks. Wednesday's statementalso hoped that Iran's proposals would pave the way for dialogue andcooperation.

The Iranian response covered two other major themes. First, Iran would notsuspend uranium enrichment, which would be carried out under the supervisionof the IAEA, and within the legal framework of the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty (NPT).

Second, Iran would hold talks on the basis of mutual respect, opposethreats, and reject a carrot-and-stick approach that some of the westerncountries have preferred to adopt. The statement pointed out that therhetoric of force and threat had proved to be inefficient. Wednesday'sstatement said Iranian people consider terms such as two-track strategy inviolation of mutual respect and dialogue in fair atmosphere.

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