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Published:July 18th, 2008 10:01 EST
Iran's Mottaki welcomes US at nuclear table

Iran's Mottaki welcomes US at nuclear table

By SOP newswire

Iran`s foreign minister says U.S. participation at upcoming talks with Iran on its nuclear program is a positive development and that he expects progress.

Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki Speaking Friday in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Manouchehr Mottaki said the "new negotiation process" signals good developments for the future.  He expressed hope that the positive atmosphere will be reflected in the context of the talks.

Earlier this week, the United States announced it is sending a senior envoy, Undersecretary of State William Burns, to join talks with Iran`s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana Saturday in Geneva.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday Burns is joining the talks to show support for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear dispute.

Attendance by Burns will mark a shift in U.S. policy.  The Bush administration has long insisted on shunning nuclear talks with Iran until it stops enriching uranium.

Rice also said Burns is attending the meeting to show that the United States and other world powers are united in their efforts to end the standoff with Iran.

Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have called on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment work, which could produce weapons-grade nuclear material.  Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

In another development, the U.S. State Department Thursday declined to confirm or deny a report in Britain`s Guardian newspaper that the Bush administration has decided to set up a diplomatic "interests section" in Tehran.  The newspaper said the announcement would be made within the next month.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.