Saturday, April 28, 2007

EU's Solana urges U.S. to talk to Iran

By Paul Taylor
Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:46PM EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged the United States on Friday to speak directly to Iran over its disputed nuclear program, saying he was sure Tehran was ready for such talks.

"We have to see how far the U.S. is willing to engage. I think at this point in time, to have also the U.S. opening a channel of communication with Iran will be worth thinking about," he said in a public discussion at a Brussels Forum on trans-Atlantic relations.

Iran says it is developing nuclear technology for power generation, but the West fears it is trying to build a bomb and U.N. sanctions have already been imposed on Tehran.

"It is very difficult to continue in a situation where Iran is considered a country with whom you cannot organize some sort of dialogue. I think that would be good. I am going to be talking to Washington in the next few days about that."

He was speaking after two days of talks with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who he said was close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Asked if he believed Khamenei was ready to allow talks with the United States, Solana answered, "I say without any hesitation, yes."

Solana said he would discuss the matter with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, who was in the audience, said Solana and Rice had already had a long conversation on the matter Thursday so "they are in very close touch about this." Continued...

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