Iran welcomes Russian nuclear proposals: Chief negotiator

AFP , Tuesday 16 Aug 2011

Russia and Iran plan to restart dialogue on the atomic energy program, as unilateral sanctions are still placed by the United States and the European Union

Iran welcomes Russia's latest proposals for restarting dialogue on Tehran's controversial atomic program, top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said Tuesday after talks with a Moscow official.

"Our Russian friends' proposals can be the basis for commencing talks on regional and international cooperation, particularly in the field of peaceful nuclear activities," Jalili was quoted as saying on state television's website.

"Talks for cooperation and dialogue-cooperation strategy can be a good strategy... we and six countries -- P5+1 -- as seven nations can work out cooperation through this strategy," Jalili said, after two rounds of talks with Moscow's National Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Patrushev, who arrived on Monday for the talks, was to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later Tuesday.

He too was upbeat on the outcome of his talks with Jalili.

"I am here on an invitation from Mr Jalili and we had very good negotiations," Patrushev was quoted on the website as saying.

"We also talked about multilateral cooperation, particularly about Iran's nuclear issue and the necessity of interaction with 5+1 group and the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said.

Moscow is seeking to revive nuclear negotiations between Iran and major world powers known as the P5+1, the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany.

In mid-July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed a new "step-by-step" approach to restart the talks on the nuclear issue.

In response to a positive move by Iran, the major powers would then have to start reducing international economic sanctions against Tehran.

As a follow-up to Patrushev's visit, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi is due to travel to Moscow later on Tuesday to continue the negotiations.

Tehran has been hit by four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over its program of uranium enrichment, which Western powers suspect has a military dimension, despite Iran's repeated denials.

The United States and European Union have also imposed their own unilateral sanctions on Iranian banks, posing risks for foreign companies which deal with them.

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