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Iran Rejects Rice's Conditional Offer for Talks
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Iran on Monday rejected US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's conditional offer that she is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if Tehran suspends uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities first.

In an interview with the official IRNA news agency, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said that preconditions set by the United States for holding talks with Iran are unacceptable.

"Setting conditions means indicating the outcome of talks prior to holding them. Therefore, such a policy has not been answerable yet," he was quoted as saying.

Larijani reiterated that Iran would be ready to hold talks without preconditions and asked the United States to make a formal request.

"Iran will welcome just negotiations on the issue to solve the existing discords," he said.

He stressed that if the US request is made through official channels and such talks prove to be constructive and rational, Iran will be prepared to consider it in a positive way.

Rice said on Sunday that she was prepared to meet her counterpart or an Iranian representative at any time if Iran would suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities.

The US secretary of state has made similar offers before and stressed that the United States has no intention to have military confrontation with Iran.

However, Larijani insisted that any country willing to hold talks with Iran should declare it through an official message.

"We give no credit to such stances revealed through media, given that by talking through media the American officials pursue other goals," he was quoted as saying in the interview with IRNA.

His remarks came as representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, the United States, France, China and Russia -- plus Germany are scheduled to meet in London on Monday to discuss further measures against Tehran's tough stance.

Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, says it needs to enrich uranium as a peaceful, alternative energy source and has the right to do so under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

However, the West has accused Iran of trying to produce nuclear weapons under a civilian cover, a charge denied by Tehran.

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1737 on Dec. 23, 2006, demanding Iran "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and work on all heavy water-related projects."

Iran has rejected the resolution as an "illegal measure" and vowed to continue the country's nuclear programs.

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2007)

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