Iran lifts hopes of progress on nuclear strategy
The US government is heralding Iran's recent change in tone with cautious approval today, acknowledging that there appears to be debate within the country over how to handle the economic sanctions caused by its continuance of a nuclear program. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said recent statements from Iranian officials indicate there is at least a discussion on the best way to react to the proposal.
Iran's top security negotiator will this month meet Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, amid continuing hopes in western capitals that Tehran will soon begin formal negotiations over its nuclear programme.
As they studied Iran's response to an international package of incentives offered to the regime if it suspends uranium enrichment, senior western diplomats said Tehran's answer was confusing.
They said its written response to the international community's offer, in the form of a letter from foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, was negative in tone and contained no indication that Iran would suspend uranium enrichment as the west demands.
The diplomats insisted that a telephone conversation on Friday between Mr Solana and Saeed Jalili. Iran's top security negotiator, had been positive. They said the call left open the possibility that the Iranians might soon enter into talks over their uranium enrichment programme.
According to two senior diplomats, Mr Jalili told Mr Solana on Friday that he was prepared to meet him in the third week of July. Mr Jalili was reported to have said that, at that meeting, Iran would explore the possibility of beginning negotiations over its nuclear programme.