U.S. Presence in Geneva Meeting Opportunity for Washington

July 17, 2008

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said here Thursday that the participation of the US Undersecretary of State William Burns in nuclear talks in Geneva is an opportunity for Washington.

Mottaki made the remark in a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem.

He said that the presence of the US envoy in the meeting will help Washington's officials listen to Iran directly.

Iran's Nuclear Negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana are scheduled to hold talks in Geneva on July 19 with the aim of settlement of the dispute on Iran nuclear program.

Representatives of the Group 5+1 including the UK, France, Russia, China, the US plus Germany are to take part in the meeting.

It is the first time that an American top diplomat will participate in the session.

Although the US had called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment as a precondition for its participation in nuclear talks, announced a policy shift with taking part in Geneva negotiations.

On opening a US interest section in Tehran, Mottaki said that the US has yet to present a formal letter to that effect.

He added that Iran had already proposed to establish Iran-US direct flights, and that Tehran is of the opinion that the two issues of airline and interest section can be mulled by both sides.

He further assessed the new trend over the part two months between Tehran and the Group 5+1 as positive and progressive.

The new process has some differences including the letter of six foreign ministers, he said, adding that they acknowledged Iran's right and the possibility of reaching a practical understanding in this respect.

The foreign minister also expressed hope that the trend will have positive change in terms of circumstances.

According to Mottaki, the upcoming negotiations in Geneva slated for Saturday is being held with an aim of setting up a modality plan for the settlement.

Pointing to the negotiations with Syrian officials, he said that Damascus has vote in the Board of Governors and adopted constructive stance on Iran's nuclear discussions in recent years, and that the trend by Syria is honorable.

He concluded that Syria has never been separated from Iran's peaceful nuclear discussions, and that Tehran has always briefed Syrian friends on the nuclear issues.