WELT ONLINE INTERVEW
WITH FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER,
GERMAN FEDERAL FOREIGN MINISTER
GERMAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
February 23, 2007
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Q: Let us now turn to Iran. Do you see the most recent signals from Tehran as playing for time or as an expression of Iran's willingness to negotiate?
A: I wouldn't yet talk about willingness to negotiate, but I did see signs of a new pensiveness during my recent talks with the Iranian side. There are clearly at least some in Tehran who are wondering whether it wouldn't be a good idea after all to accept the international community's serious and substantial offer of cooperation. In any case the message seems to have hit home that no nuclear programme alone, no matter how prestigious it is, can feed Iran's people.
Q: Surely you don't have reason to believe that President Ahmadinejad has caught this pensiveness "bug"?
A: I pointed out to my Iranian interlocutors that Ahmadinejad's harsh language, not only on the nuclear issue but also in his repeated denial of the Holocaust, is making a return to the negotiating table difficult, and that it is therefore vital that the public language of Iran's leadership changes.
Q: The Security Council's deadline has passed, and according to an IAEA report Iran has failed to meet the UN's expectations.
A: That is why the Security Council will meet soon to discuss what conclusions should be drawn. Next Monday representatives of the "E3" foreign ministries will meet their colleagues from the US, China and Russia for initial consultations on this issue.
Q: Will there be further sanctions?
A: I talked about this with my colleagues Sergei Lavrov, Condoleezza Rice and Javier Solana on the fringes of the Middle East Quartet meeting this week in Berlin. We agreed on two things – first, that it is important to maintain the solidarity of the international community, and I'm confident that we will succeed in doing this during the coming consultations on a further round in the Security Council, and second, that our offer of negotiations with Iran remains on the table.
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