News / Middle East

EU Says Iran's Offer on Nuclear Talks Not New

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (file photo)
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (file photo)

A European Union official says Iran's offer to resume talks on the country's disputed nuclear program contains nothing new and "does not appear to justify" another meeting with six world powers.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton made the comment in response to a letter Ashton received Monday from Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

In the letter, Jalili urged the six world powers to restart nuclear talks that stalled in January, saying the next round of dialogue should be based on "respect for Iran's rights and avoidance of pressure."

Ashton's spokesman, Maja Kocijancic, said Wednesday the 27-nation bloc is "surprised" to hear the Iranians talking about meetings. She says Iran has not communicated "any proposals" to the EU.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States, like the EU, is only interested in "serious" negotiations.  He agreed the group should not get together unless there was a reason to do so.   

Jalili's message was in response to a letter Ashton sent to Iran in February on behalf of the major powers, which comprise Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Kocijancic says the EU will be in touch with the Iranians "with the aim to create the basis to renew a dialogue."  The nuclear talks stalled when Iran refused to discuss international demands for it to freeze its uranium enrichment program.

Iran is under international sanctions because of its enrichment activities that the United States and its allies suspect are weapons-related.  Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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