Ahmadinejad 'ready for talks'

2012-01-27 17:49

Tehran - Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Tehran is ready to sit down with world powers for talks on its nuclear drive as he downplayed the harmful effects of newly imposed sanctions.

The Islamic republic, which was already under four rounds of United Nations sanctions, vehemently denies its nuclear programme masks an atomic weapons drive as the West alleges, and insists it is for civilian purposes only.

"They have this excuse that Iran is dodging negotiations while it is not the case," the Iranian leader was quoted as saying by state media.

"A person who has logic and has right on his side, why should (he) refrain from negotiations?"

He was implicitly responding to comments made by Western officials urging the Islamic republic to return to negotiations over its contested nuclear programme.

The last round of talks between Iran and the major powers consisting of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States was held in Turkey in January 2011, but the negotiations collapsed.

Waiting for reply

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday: "The European Union stands together in sending that clear message to the government of Iran: That we wish to go back to negotiations, to invite them to pick up the issues which were left on the table in Istanbul a year ago."

The six powers are still waiting for Iran's reply to a letter Ashton sent in October, stressing that negotiations should focus on the "key question" of the Iranian nuclear issue, in order to remove doubts.

The United States declined to directly respond to Ahmadinejad's comments on Thursday, saying instead that Tehran should formally reply to Ashton's letter.

"Our position is that it is as it always has been - the Iranian regime needs to live up to its obligations to the international community," White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the letter "very specifically offers talks if Iran is ready to be serious about coming clean with regard to its nuclear programme".

"So just saying you're open for talks doesn't meet the criteria that we have set, which is to be ready for talks and ready to be serious about letting the world know all of the details of your nuclear programme and proving your claims that it's for peaceful purposes."

Oil embargo

Several Iranian officials have said publicly that Tehran was ready to resume talks, but without specifying the content of the talks, and have not yet formally responded to Ashton's letter.

"Iran is ready to negotiate on the basis of mutual respect," Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday.

He said he would forward the response from Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, "on the date and place of negotiations", to his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, who is acting as an intermediary, to be given to Ashton.

The European Union on Monday slapped an embargo on Iranian oil imports as the West ramped up the pressure.

In his televised comments, Ahmadinejad brushed off the effects of the newly imposed sanctions, saying they would not hurt his nation.

"Once our trade with Europe was around 90% but now it has reached 10% and we are not seeking this 10%... Experience has shown that the Iranian nation will not be hurt," Ahmadinejad said during a visit to the southern Kerman province.

Asset freeze

"For the past 30 years, the Americans have not been buying oil from us. Our central bank has no relations with you."

Iranian media reported that parliament would consider a bill next week to ban oil exports to Europe following the bloc's decision to impose an embargo.

EU foreign ministers agreed on an immediate ban on oil imports and a phase-out of existing contracts up to July 1. They also froze the assets of Iran's central bank while ensuring legitimate trade under strict conditions.

The bloc imported about 600 000 barrels per day of Iranian oil in the first 10 months of last year, making it a key market alongside India and China, which has refused to bow to pressure from Washington to dry up Iran's oil revenues.

The new EU sanctions would make it even more difficult for Iran to be paid in foreign currency for its oil exports, which were worth more than $100bn in 2011.

  • Paul - 2012-01-27 19:11

    Talk is cheap ... oil isn't!

      Dirk - 2012-01-28 07:35

      You dont talk to terrorists- you eliminate them. Retards? The ones who rub shoulders with murderous savages, are the retards, both individual and companies.

      Barry - 2012-01-28 19:43

      I can almost guarantee the thieving USA and its Western lapdogs will refuse to meet with Iran. The thieves want the OIL. Such is the Western Economic terrorism that exists in the world today.

  • Vegi - 2012-01-27 19:33

    I am dissappointed at Iran's willingness to talk with infidels.

      Barry - 2012-01-27 20:00

      I agree. Lets hope the West dont screw up again this time. We have to remember there is NO proof of a nuclear weapons program in Iran

      Gerhard - 2012-01-28 08:01

      If Iran has got nothing to hide why don't they open their doors for international inspection. Problem solved.

      Jou - 2012-01-28 13:42

      All that hoity-toity sabre-rattling and then true to nature the Philistine caves in. Jeez can he ever tell the truth about anything...just once in his life. No morals and no pride.

      Barry - 2012-01-28 19:48

      @Gerhard... You are such a dork. The international inspectors are there already!!! They just cannot find proof... Do you get it now ? The USA is targeting the OIL reserves in Iran...Nothing else.

  • Comrade - 2012-01-27 19:46

    NO-ONE WILL WANT TO LISTEN! (to your lies and bullsh*t)

  • Fidel - 2012-01-27 22:09

    South Africa and Iran also have significant investment links. MTN Group, Africa’s biggest telecoms company, is a major player in Iran, where it has over 32 million subscribers and makes nearly 10% of its revenue. “Our operations are going on as normal, and it’s business as usual. We have not met anyone from any government, whether it’s South Africa or the US, and we are not under pressure from anyone,” said MTN spokesperson Rich Mkhondo. There are idiots (western agents) in this country cheering on the western hawks who are not imposing their hegemony just on Iran, but the rest of the world and they see nothing wrong with this. The cream of the 1% has nothing against high oil prices, not as long as Iran is around to be the fall guy for popular anger. Western agents indeed, as Malema rightfully calls them!

      Michele - 2012-01-28 09:20

      Fidel the only fool here would be you if you are happy to give a nation practicing Sharia law a nuke or the accessability to one. Go read a book called " journey into the mind of an islamic terrorist " by Prof Mark A Gabriel and then we can talk again.

      Bram - 2012-01-28 09:57


      Fidel - 2012-01-28 10:06

      I am not happy with zionist or evangelist possesing nuclear weapons. "Mad mullahs" is just a propaganda term to keep simpletons like you from thinking too much about what their government is doing. The mullahs are self-interested elites who actions are perfectly explicable and rational with respect to their desire to pursue their own self-interest. The terrorism I have seen is the one perpetuted by NATO in developing countries.

  • peterjohnjnb - 2012-01-28 00:11

    I am not against Iran per sae having nuclear arms, I'm against nuclear armament altogether - but since the likes of the the French, Chinese and Americans, Indians and Pakastanis will not be giving up their weapons anytime soon it is a little rich for them to be dictating to Iran what they can or cannot do. However, why do we need ANOTHER country with nuclear arms? should't we be supporting any movement towards total disarmament? And don't kid yourself, one only needs to follow Ahmadinejad's rhetoric to know that nuclear armament in Iran would destabilise the entire region - why do you think the rest of the Islamic states around Iran are keeping mum? My bigger concern however, is that these sanctions are not being used as a means to bring abou social reform to Iran, greater press freedoms, greater equality for woman and freedom of expression, human rights etc it's being used to further the foreign policy of America and the EU. And I disagree with the sentiment that this puts the Iranians in a position of power because it's caused an oil squeeze on Europe, Iran is far more dependent on oil exports then the EU is on Iran as major market. The increased cost in fuel in Europe for sourcing elsewhere is going to be negligible when taken over the rate of consumption and volume of consumption. And frankly, even if it means we have to pay a little more for our oil, if it's going to bring about even just the smallest amount of reform to this country, I'll pay it with a smile.

      Fidel - 2012-01-28 07:57

      Peter with all due respect, why does it seem important to white people to want other people to live like them or adopt your values. The Iranians have a culture that is much older than yours and have survived and changed with times when they are ready and not at the insistance of foreigners. Leave them alone!

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