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Iran, EU and US begin direct nuclear talks

Article published on the 2008-07-19 Latest update 2008-07-19 13:12 TU

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana (l) shakes hand with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili(Credit: Reuters)

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana (l) shakes hand with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili
(Credit: Reuters)

Iran, the European Union and the United States are united for talks on Iran's nuclear issue in Geneva Saturday, the first time Washington has directly joined the talks. The move is a sea change from current US foreign policy, as the White House had formerly refused all direct contact with Iran, calling it a "rogue state". "Everybody hopes there will be fruitful results to the negotiations," a member of the Iranian delegation said as Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was greeted by EU's diplomatic chief Javier Solana.
Both headed into the meeting with US State Department Official William Burns.

Reports indicate that western officials have offered a different incentives package as part of six weeks of  pre-negotiations. During this brief period Tehran would not add to the numerous uranium-enriching centrifuges it already has and no more sanctions would be imposed on Iran.

But Iranian official Kevyan Imani told reporters that the focus would be on the common points of both packages, referring to what world powers have offered Tehran to stop uranium enrichment, and Iran's proposals on "solving the world's problems," which was not defined.

The US has not had any diplomatic relations with Iran since following the Islamic Revolution in 1980, making Burns' appearance, as number three State Department official, an important step in thawing relations.

Diplomats from the UN Security Council, including the US, UK, France, China and Russia, as well as Germany, are also in attendance.

Western countries and the UN-backed watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspect that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran has vehmently denied the charges, asserting that its uranium enrichment program is only for peaceful purposes.

The all-day talks are set to continue late into the afternoon.