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Mottaki: Iran Could Respond To Changed U.S.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki
TOKYO (Reuters) -- Iran could respond to U.S. efforts to engage with Tehran if Washington turns the new tenor of its words into reality, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by a Japanese newspaper.

U.S. President Barack Obama has rolled back his predecessor George W. Bush's policy of isolating Iran.

The United States also joined Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain in asking EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's disputed nuclear work.

Tehran said on April 15 that it had prepared proposals to end the stalemate, but gave no details.

"We are studying the comments of the U.S. government precisely and with respect," Mottaki was quoted as saying in an interview with the "Yomiuri" newspaper published in Japanese on April 17.

"If the Obama administration turns its expressions of change into reality, there can also be change on our side," he added.

Mottaki is in Tokyo to attend a gathering of Pakistan's allies and donors, who are expected to pledge some $4 billion to fund efforts on poverty alleviation, education and health in the cash-strapped nuclear-armed South Asian country.

Asked about Iran's new proposal for breaking the stalemate over its nuclear work, Mottaki said it would be a revision of a proposal made in May, and was in response to the new global situation, the "Yomiuri" said.

Speculation has simmered that Mottaki might take the opportunity to talk to special U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, who is also attending the gathering but Holbrooke told Reuters they had no plans to meet. Mottaki similarly told reporters that he was in Tokyo primarily for the Pakistan meeting. "That is our main agenda," he said.

Mottaki praised Obama's vision of a world without nuclear arms, but added it was the right of every country to have nuclear power, the "Yomiuri" said.

Iran, which says its nuclear program is to generate electricity, has boasted of now running 7,000 uranium centrifuges, which can have civilian and military uses, and has vowed not to stop uranium enrichment.