Iran replies to EU on resuming talks with world powers

 Iran today replied to a letter sent nearly four months ago by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposing a resumption of stalled talks with world powers on its nuclear programme, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The letter, written by chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and handed to Ashton's office, reads: "Iran welcomes the readiness of the P5+1 group to return to negotiations in order to take fundamental steps toward further cooperation."

The P5+1 consists of the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus non-permanent member Germany.
"Iran is ready for the continuation of talks," Jalili's letter said, adding that Iran "welcomed a recent remark by Ms Ashton that the European Union respects Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy."

The last talks between Iran and the P5+1 took place in Istanbul a year ago and produced no results.

Since then, tensions over Iran's nuclear programme, particularly between Washington, the European Union and Tehran, have escalated dramatically.

Western nations, who accuse Tehran of seeking a covert nuclear weapons capability, have ramped up economic sanctions against Iran over the past three months after the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report saying it had evidence the Islamic republic appeared to be conducting research on atomic warheads.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.

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