Rice sets conditions for Iran talks
The United States is prepared to join other nations in holding direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program if Iran first agrees to stop nuclear activities that the West fears could lead to a bomb, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.
"To underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table," Rice said on Wednesday.
"The Iranian government’s choices are clear. The negative choice is for the regime to maintain its current course, pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community and its international obligations," she added.
"This morning US representatives have conveyed my statement to Iran through the good offices of the Swiss government, and through Iran’s representative to the United Nations.
"President Bush wants a new and positive relationship between the American people and the people of Iran -- a beneficial relationship of increased contacts in education, cultural exchange, sports, travel, trade, and investment. The nuclear issue is not the only obstacle standing in the way of improved relations."
Earlier, diplomats said the United States was ready to join other states in holding direct talks with Iran in return for concessions from China and Russia. But the diplomats, according to the AP, said the Bush administration would only do so if Beijing and Moscow agreed to back U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran if it refuses to give up uranium enrichment.
News of the latest U.S. position comes on the eve of a six-nation meeting focusing on ending months of disagreement between Washington and the Kremlin on how to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.