World Bulletin / News Desk
The United States is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts.
Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Biden said Iran - which says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy only - now faced "the most robust sanctions in history" meant to ensure it does not use its programme to develop nuclear weapons.
Biden said, "there is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran's court."
Asked whether Washington might consider direct talks with Iran to smooth the process, Biden said, "When the Iranian leadership, Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), is serious.
"We have made it clear at the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership, we would not make it a secret that we were doing that, we would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself.
"That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise."
Negotiations with Iran have so far been overseen by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on behalf of France, Britain, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. Ashton has asked Iran to hold a round of talks this month.
Many believe no deal is possible without a U.S.-Iranian thaw, requiring direct talks addressing myriad sources of mutual mistrust and hostility lingering since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.Last Mod: 02 Şubat 2013, 17:38