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White House Prods Iran On Nuclear Cooperation


A demonstrator outside the Iranian presidential palace in 2003 holds a sign registering disapproval for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory.

A demonstrator outside the Iranian presidential palace in 2003 holds a sign registering disapproval for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration says Iran still has a way to end the confrontation with the United States and its allies over Tehran's nuclear program.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to say whether Obama had written a letter to the Iranian leadership expressing a U.S. readiness for talks with Iran.

But he said that if Iran wants to ease tensions with the West, it should engage the U.S. and other major powers in discussions about its nuclear work, which the U.S. and other countries allege is aimed toward building a nuclear weapon.

Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only.

The United Nations has passed four rounds of sanctions over Iran's nuclear activities, and its nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently accused Tehran of secret work "specific to nuclear weapons."

Carney neither confirmed nor denied reports in Tehran that Obama had sent Iranian leaders a new letter about talks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on January 18 that negotiations were under way to hold new talks between global powers and Iran over nuclear issues, and the "most probable” venue was Istanbul.

But a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton rejected Salehi's comments, saying Tehran had yet to respond to Ashton’s overture sent to Iranian officials in October.

compiled from agency reports
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