TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will be ready to resume nuclear talks with world powers as soon as the country's president-elect puts together his negotiating team, the foreign minister said Wednesday amid signals on both sides to try to quickly restart dialogue.
The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi follow a meeting in Brussels with members of the six-member group that reopened talks last year with Iran on its disputed nuclear program. The West fears the program is designed to develop atomic weapons, while Iran insists it is only for peaceful purposes.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the group — the five permanent U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany — seeks to resume negotiations "as soon as possible." Four rounds of talks since last year have failed so far to make significant headway, and no date has been proposed for their resumption.
Iran's newly elected president, Hasan Rouhani, himself a former top nuclear negotiator, is currently piecing together his government. He will be sworn-in early next month.
In separate comments attributed to Rouhani, he dismissed Israel's warnings of possible military action against Iran's nuclear program, telling veterans of the 1980-88 war with Iraq that they should scoff at threats from a "miserable country in the region."
The remarks were carried by tasnimnews, a newly established conservative news website. The statement was not reported by state media or other more established news outlets. Rouhani's advisers declined to comment.