US ready to engage with Iran: White House

Last Updated: Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 10:17

Washington: The US on Friday said that it is ready to engage with Iran on the basis of mutual respect while acknowledging that American diplomats are currently having talks with Iranians.

Without divulging details, the White House confirmed that US diplomats are currently having talks with Iranians.

"We have had a number of engagements with the Iranians and we`ll continue to have conversations on the basis of mutual respect. And over the course of those conversations, there will be an opportunity for the Iranians to demonstrate, through actions, the seriousness with which they`re pursuing this endeavour," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters abroad Air Force One.

"I`m not prepared to get into any sort of the details of the specific conversations that we`re having with the Iranian regime at this point," he said in response to a question.

Earnest said there have been some contacts that have emerged in the news, including an exchange of letters between the American President and the Iranian President.

"So this is an indication that there are some ongoing conversations," he said.

"But again, it`s actions that will be determinative here, and it`s actions that we need to see from the Iranians to demonstrate their seriousness of purpose as they come back to the international community and take advantage, we hope, of the opportunity to demonstrate in no uncertain terms to the international community that their nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful means," Earnest said.

"It is clear that the reason that the Iranians are demonstrating this willingness to approach the international community is because the international community is united in their belief that the regime needs to fulfil their obligations to the international community when it comes to their nuclear programme," he said.

"What we would like to see from the Iranians beyond just some of the encouraging words that we`ve heard from them in the last few days are some demonstrable actions that demonstrate the seriousness of purpose as they pursue conversations about coming into compliance with international standards," he said.

A senior official yesterday had reiterated that the US wants to see the recent change in rhetoric by the Iranian leadership to be followed up by actions to address the concerns of the international community on its nuclear weapons programme.

Responding to questions, Earnest said no meeting so far has been planned between Obama and his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York next week, though he did not categorically rule it out altogether.

"There`s still some aspects of the President`s schedule that are being locked down," he said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 10:17

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