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US official to attend meeting with Iran’s nuclear negotiator

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A senior US diplomat will attend international nuclear talks with Iran on Saturday, marking a shift in US policy on negotiations with Tehran, a State Department official said.

Undersecretary of State William Burns will attend the weekend meeting in Geneva between EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Tehran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

The United States has no official contact with Iran and until now has refused to even participate in preliminary discussions with Iranian officials unless Tehran first suspends its nuclear enrichment activities.

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Burns, the State Department’s third-ranking official, would be in Geneva “to receive the Iranian response to the latest offer of the P5 plus 1,” said the official, requesting anonymity.

The meeting was planned as the five permanent members of the UN security council plus Germany seek to reach an agreement with Tehran over its atomic program, which the West believes is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

The decision came after Washington insisted for months that it was ready to talk to Iran only if it abandons its sensitive nuclear activities, which Tehran has refused to do.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 3:59 am

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