Tehran: Iran on Wednesday replied to a letter sent nearly four months ago by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposing a resumption of stalled talks with world powers on its nuclear programme, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The letter, written by chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and handed to Ashton`s office, reads: "Iran welcomes the readiness of the P5+1 group to return to negotiations in order to take fundamental steps toward further cooperation."
The P5+1 consists of the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus non-permanent member Germany.
"Iran is ready for the continuation of talks," Jalili`s letter said, adding that Iran "welcomed a recent remark by Ms Ashton that the European Union respects Iran`s right to peaceful nuclear energy."
The last talks between Iran and the P5+1 took place in Istanbul a year ago and produced no results.
Since then, tensions over Iran`s nuclear programme, particularly between Washington, the European Union and Tehran, have escalated dramatically.
Western nations, who accuse Tehran of seeking a covert nuclear weapons capability, have ramped up economic sanctions against Iran over the past three months after the UN`s International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report saying it
had evidence the Islamic republic appeared to be conducting research on atomic warheads.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.