The European Union says talks with Iranian officials over Tehran's controversial nuclear program are off to a good start. More talks are scheduled next week.
The spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the EU expected a meeting Tuesday with Iran nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani to be positive.
Spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said she expected the Iranians to give Brussels a substantial response to a package of incentives that Solana had presented to Tehran last month on behalf of international negotiators.
Those incentives aim to coax Iran to abandon its nuclear program, which the Iranian government insists is for civilian purposes only. But Western nations fear Tehran is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. After talks with Solana on Thursday, Larijani also said Iran was serious about the talks in Brussels.
Analyst Daniel Keohane, of the Center for European Reform, in London said the new, upbeat mood may reflect a shift in Iran's position in the standoff.
"My sense is that the Iranians have begun to realize that they may have overplayed their hand over the last few months - that they were not able to split the U.N. security council as easily as they had expected," he said. "That the EU and the United States have worked hard to keep Russia and China on board and to get the Iranians back to the table. And I think that's why the European Union in particular is more upbeat on the fact the Iranians have come back."
Larijani had been scheduled to meet with Solana on Wednesday but the talks were called off, and rescheduled for Thursday. Iran was apparently angry over a large rally in Paris by an Iranian opposition group last Saturday, along with the appearance of an Iranian opposition leader at the European Parliament.