Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States remains "open to engagement" with Iran amid tensions over its nuclear aims, according to an interview transcript released on Sunday.
"We remain open to engagement. But they do know what they have to do. They have to reassure the international community by words and actions as to what their nuclear program is intended for," she said in an interview with The New York Times.
"And so whether it would take six months, a year, or five years, it`s that deep concern about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons that is the preoccupation of our friends and partners," she said.
"And we would be pursuing the path we`re pursuing regardless of any issue of timing because we think it`s got the best potential for changing Iranian behaviour."
Hillary’s comments were released by the State Department yesterday, a day after brief quotes from her 20-minute Times interview appeared in the newspaper.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama cautiously welcomed the effects of new sanctions on Iran but said he remained willing to talk with Tehran about its nuclear program, in a meeting with a small group of journalists at the White House.
"It is very important to put before the Iranians a clear set of steps that we would consider sufficient to show that they are not pursuing nuclear weapons," Obama said, according to the Washington Post.
"They should know what they can say `yes` to."
Reports said Obama left open the possibility that the United States would accept a deal allowing Iran to maintain its civilian nuclear program, so long as Tehran provides "confidence-building measures" to verify that it is not building a bomb.