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President Says Iran 'Serious' About Nuclear Talks

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (right) with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said in Tehran that Iran has always been willing to solve the long-standing crisis over its disputed nuclear programs through negotiations.

Speaking at a press conference with visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said Iran is serious about its nuclear talks with the international community.

No Answer Yet

"We are serious in the negotiations and we hope that negotiations will take place in a stable and lawful method and will bring practical and concrete results," he said. "We hope the others are serious, too, and that they are ready to discuss various global and regional issues and move toward peace and security."

Ahmadinejad's remarks come as the world powers await Tehran's official response to their latest proposal to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities.

In a meeting in Geneva on July 19, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany offered Iran a package of economic incentives -- including cooperation in the field of civilian-sector nuclear power -- in return for Iran's pledge to freeze uranium-enrichment activities.

At the time, EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana said the EU is expecting Tehran's "clear answer in about two weeks' time." That would suggest an informal deadline of August 2 for Tehran to give its response to the proposal.

News agencies have quoted EU officials in Brussels as saying Tehran's answer may come on August 4. Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, however, has said no deadline had been set.

No 'Retreat'

On August 2, Ahmadinejad said there would be no retreat from the Iranian side in the nuclear dispute.

He said, "in whichever negotiations we take is unequivocally with the view to the realization of Iran's nuclear right and the Iranian nation will not retreat one iota from its rights."

His remarks were posted on the Iranian presidential website after Ahmadinejad's talks with his Syrian counterpart.

A few weeks prior to his visit to Tehran, al-Assad reportedly said in Paris that he would respond to France's request and use his good relations with Tehran to help resolve the standoff.

However, speaking in Tehran on August 3, al-Assad said he has not come to Iran as a "mediator."

"I have not come to the Islamic Republic as a mediator or as an envoy," al-Assad said. "And I am not carrying any message from any Western officials to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Besides, I've not visited Iran in the framework of nuclear issues, but the nuclear issue was a part of our negotiations. In every other negotiation with other top Iranian officials we have discussed the nuclear issue."

The West accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear warheads, while Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating nuclear energy.

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