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DW staff (cat)August 11, 2008

Iran and the European Union reiterated their willingness to resume talks on the dispute over Iran's controversial nuclear programs, according to the ISNA news agency.

Two men in suits shaking hands
Jalili and Solana last met about the nuclear program in JulyImage: AP

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeid Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana agreed by phone to continue what Iran called "talks in a constructive atmosphere," Iranian State media reported Monday, Aug. 11.

"Solana and Jalili voiced satisfaction at the constructive trend of negotiations in Geneva and the contacts afterwards," the television broadcast said.

According to the report, the two had voiced the same willingness in a phone call on Aug. 4.

Solana is the main point of contact between Iran and the six major powers -- the UN's five veto nations plus Germany, which have offered Iran a package of incentives in return for a freeze in uranium enrichment activities. His office in Brussels confirmed the conversation but would give no details.

Ambiguous response leads to new sanctions

Man standing at podium with Iranian flag and uranium symbol in background
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposesImage: AP

The renewed willingness comes after Iran failed to give a clear reply to the latest proposal by the world powers to either accept suspension of uranium enrichment and avail itself of Western political and financial incentives, or reject suspension and face additional sanctions.

As a result of their ambiguous answer to this latest proposal, Iran faces new sanctions announced by the presidency of the 27-member EU on Friday.

Tehran, however, still wants to engage in negotiations to find a settlement to the dispute though the state harshly rejects any ultimatum or deadline. Iran has said its nuclear program is intended solely to produce energy. The West, however, fears the enrichment program could be a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

The new restrictions include tougher cargo inspections and restrictions on public loans. The EU and the US have also imposed restrictions on Iran's largest banks in addition to three sets of sanctions previously agreed to by the Security Council.

A government spokesman said Sunday the new UN sanctions put into force by the EU would be "fruitless," adding that Iran's firm position in the nuclear dispute would not change with sanctions and threats.

They retaliated against the European move by ordering the state oil company to deposit oil revenues only in selected banks.