US and Others Offer to Meet With Iran

By Gorman Gorman

Sep 11, 2009 4:20pm

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:

Despite US concerns that Iran’s response this week to an offer on its
nuclear program fails to address those concerns, Washington agreed to
join a new offer to meet with Iran – one that would put a US official
at the table with the Iranians. No word yet on where or when it would
take place, of course Iran has to accept this first.

The offer,
announced today by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, will be for
talks that the US and others hope could lead to further talks about
their nuclear program. In its letter this week to the so-called P5+1,
the group of countries that has offered talks since 2006, Iran said it
was willing to meet, but made no mention of its nuclear program.

Tehran
has said previously it won’t discuss its nuclear program, but the State
Department today said it would bring up the matter at the meeting
anyway.

"Through an early meeting, should Iran be willing, we'll
be looking to see if they are willing to engage seriously on these
issues," spokesman PJ Crowley said, struggling to explain what gave the
US hope that Iran would engage in dialogue on an issue they have said
is not up for discussion.

"There's language in the letter that
simply says the government of Iran is willing to enter into dialogue. 
We are going to test that proposition," he said.

A senior
State Department official, speaking on background, said Iran had
signaled it would respond to the initial international offer after it’s
election in June.

"Iran has been sending signals for some time
that once they got past the election that they would respond to the
Solana invitation. Clearly they hadn’t banked on the post election
mayhem," the official said.

"We are going to seek a meeting
because, again, it’s not because the paper is everything we want it to
be, it’s because we continue to believe that only through serious
engagement will we be able to address our concerns particularly on the
nuclear issue," the official added.

"We do not want to see this
fail," the official said, but added: "should Iran choose not to engage
I think that would put us in a stronger position to seek others ways of
applying pressure to Iran."

Read: sanctions.

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