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Iran wants fresh nuclear dialogue, may talk to US

MALAYSIA: Iran said it wanted to resume nuclear negotiations with the EU and could even talk to Washington if its arch-foe "changed behaviour".

Tehran also said it was willing to negotiate on the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges it uses for research, but stressed it would not stop running the devices entirely as the U.N. Security Council has called for.

Washington, which along with its allies suspect Iran could use even limited enrichment facilities to master the technology required to make atomic weapons, dismissed the overture.

Tehran says it seeks nuclear energy only for electricity.

The five Security Council permanent powers and Germany will meet in Vienna on Thursday in hopes of finalising a package of incentives for Iran to halt enrichment along with penalties if it keeps defying international pressure, officials said.

Iran has vowed that nothing will dissuade it from having full-fledged nuclear technology on its soil, spurring one senior EU diplomat to say on Tuesday that the painstakingly crafted incentives could end up an "academic and theoretical exercise".

"Europeans should consider irreversible realities in any proposal they plan to offer Iran," Iranian deputy atomic energy chief Mohammad Saeedi said, alluding to Iran's first successful production of fuel for atomic power plants, announced in April.

"If they ignore these realities, any proposal will surely face difficulties," he told a Tehran University gathering.

Speaking in Malaysia, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tehran could resume dialogue with the United States, after a 26-year official freeze, if Washington changed its behaviour.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the European Union would welcome direct talks between the United States and Iran, but it was for Washington and Tehran to decide.

"As far as direct contacts between the U.S. and Iran, as you know they've spent 20 years not talking to each other," he said.

"A logical analysis would say that that should come to an end because Iran is going to be a very important player in the world. But this is a decision that ... they have to take."

Mottaki said Iran had told Britain, France and Germany it wanted fresh negotiations to resolve the nuclear stalemate. The "EU3" has said Iran must reinstate a suspension of uranium enrichment under which previous negotiations proceeded.

The United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany aim to wrap up a "carrots-and-sticks" package for Iran at Thursday's meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna.

"We hope the meeting will achieve positive results," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in Beijing. Putrajaya, Wednesday, Reuters

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