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    Iran Says It Is Serious About Nuclear Negotiations,  Offers Nothing New

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad says his country is serious in trying to resolve its nuclear differences with the international community, while visiting Syrian President Bashar al Assad says his government is willing to help, but denies acting as an envoy of the West.  VOA's Sonja Pace reports from Cairo, talks between the two leaders in Tehran gave no indication of any breakthrough in the nuclear stand-off.

    Speaking on Iranian state-run television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country welcomes negotiations to resolve its nuclear dispute with major world powers.   

    But, he also insisted on his country's right to nuclear technology and said the only way forward is through diplomacy.  
     
    Iran is a signatory to the international Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and has the right to nuclear technology.  Tehran insists it wants to develop its nuclear industry for peaceful means only.  But, much of the international community fears Iran wants to develop a nuclear weapon.

    President Ahmadinejad spoke during a visit to Tehran by Iran's staunch ally, President Bashar al-Assa


    During President Assad's visit to Paris last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the Syrian leader to try to persuade Iran to cooperate.

    Proposals to end the impasse over Iran's nuclear program were last discussed in Geneva two weeks ago, in a meeting that represented Iran, the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union.  And, taking part for the first time was a senior American envoy, Undersecretary of State William Burns.

    The proposals call for Iran to initially freeze its level of uranium enrichment while the United Nations and European Union freeze their levels of sanctions.  Then after a six-week confidence building period the world powers want Iran to halt uranium enrichment in return for economic and trade benefits and help in developing nuclear technology to produce energy.

    Iran was given until this weekend to respond.

    Speaking in Tehran, President Ahmadinejad basically repeated what he has said in the past - that Iran is ready to talk, but not ready to stop enriching uranium.  And that position has been rejected by much of the international community, including the European Union and the United States. 
     

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