Iran open to more nuclear talks: Ahmadinejad

Iran is open to hold further talks with 6 world powers over its Nuke prog.

Updated: Jan 24, 2011, 00:14 AM IST

Tehran: Iran is open to holding further talks with six world powers over its nuclear programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday, a day after the failure of the latest round of dialogue.

Ahmadinejad`s remarks came after the world powers expressed disappointment over the two days of talks held in Istanbul, even as the United States and Germany voiced hopes of holding new negotiations with the Islamic republic.

"They have talked for a few rounds, but we never expected that issues would be resolved during these few sessions because of the record and mentality of the other parties," Ahmadinejad said in a speech aired live on state television from the nothern city of Rasht.

"But if the other side is determined and committed to justice, law and respect, one can hope that suitable results could be achieved in future sessions."

The talks in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday failed to yield results between Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.

The dialogue was aimed at ascertaining whether Iran`s contentious nuclear drive masks a weapons programme as suspected by the West, but staunchly denied by the Islamic republic.

The world powers blamed Iran`s conditions, the lifting of sanctions and its right to enrich uranium, which is the most controversial part of its nuclear programme, for the failure of the Istanbul dialogue.

Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency the nuclear programme has grown, said however that the talks created the conditions for "good agreements in future sessions" as both sides met and got acquainted to each other`s views.

But he charged that "the uncultured Zionists ( Israel) and some power-hungry people in Europe and the US are not interested in a good resolution of the issues."

"I am telling the 5+1 officials that if you want the negotiations to bear results, you should free yourself from the pressure of short-sighted and uncultured people in order to pave the way for further engagement.

"The world should know that this nation stands up to bullying and will put the bullies in their place. You cannot make Iran back down an inch from its course as it is now a nuclear state," said Ahmadinejad.

Iran had set the stage for fierce wrangling as soon as the Istanbul meeting began on Friday, declaring its uranium enrichment work was not up for debate.

The West wants Tehran to abandon the sensitive work as the refined material can be used to power nuclear reactors as well as to make the core of an atom bomb.

Speaking after the talks, Iran`s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili insisted on Tehran`s right to enrich uranium "must be recognised."

But his counterpart in the negotiations, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the outcome of the latest dialogue had "disappointed" her given Tehran`s "pre-conditions relating to enriching uranium and sanctions."

Germany also expressed regret on Sunday, while holding out the hope that there could be more talks.

"Unfortunately Iran was not yet ready to take such substantial confidence-building step," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in a statement.

"We will now intensively consult with our partners to discuss the way forward. We are still prepared for talks. I hope that Iran is ready to take the outstretched hand of the international community."

Those comments came after a senior US diplomat also raised the possibility of future talks.

"Clearly, according to public reports, there are signs that the Iranian nuclear programme has slowed," he said on condition of anonymity. "So I think there is time and space for diplomacy."

On Sunday, the Iranian media rounded on the West for derailing the Istanbul talks.

"Fruitless talks as Iran refuses to be blackmailed," splashed the front-page banner in the Farsi-language hardline newspaper Kayhan.

In an editorial, Kayhan directly blamed the West for the failure of the dialogue, saying: "Iran negotiated strongly in Istanbul, but heavy mistakes in calculations in the West`s mind did not allow an agreement to be reached."

Kayhan`s English version said Iran entered the dialogue on an "equal footing" with the West, adding the "lifting of sanctions was the price the West has to pay" for Tehran`s help in solving issues of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bureau Report