Iran insists it does not want nuclear arms and argues it has a right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear power program, but suspicion persists that the real aim is to build an atomic bomb.
Last month Iran, in a defiant move, announced plans to vastly increase its pace of uranium enrichment. That can be used to make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
Vali Nasr, dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, sounded a skeptical note about direct Iran-U.S. talks any time soon.
"I think these are good statements that both sides are at least open to this, (but) I think there have to be some ideas about how you get them to the table in a credible way," he said. "One of the worst things is that if they went to the table and then they fail ... then we really will be at an impasse."
"So I think that's very key, that when that moment comes there's actually some forward momentum built into the talks," Nasr said.
Salehi underlined Iran's role as "an important regional player" and told the conference: "We are the golden key to the region."
Iran is a key ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. On the sidelines of the Munich meeting, the minister met the top Syrian opposition leader, Moaz al-Khatib.
Salehi welcomed al-Khatib's statements over the past week that he would be willing to sit down with representatives of Assad's regime as "a good step forward."
But amid international calls for Assad to go, he insisted that "we do not need prescriptions from outside."
"Iran has talked to the opposition, we are not categorizing the opposition, we are ready to talk to all opposition," Salehi said.
"We are ready to be part of the solution," he insisted. "The sooner that we resolve the issue, the better it is."
Associated Press writer Don Melvin contributed to this report from Brussels.