ASTANA, Kazakhstan – The Obama administration is encouraged that Iran has agreed to return to Geneva for a new round of international talks on its disputed nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday.
"We are encouraged that Iran has agreed to meet in Geneva next week," she told a news conference after attending the opening day of a summit meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which does not include Iran.
"This is an opportunity for Iran to come to the table and discuss the matters that are of concern to the international community — first and foremost, their nuclear program." She also said the talks could be more comprehensive but that the nuclear matter would be central.
The talks are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.
Clinton said a uranium-exchange agreement that was announced following talks with Iran in October 2009 — but which later unraveled — would have to be modified to take into account the fact that Iran has since produced more enriched uranium.
"We hope that Iran will enter into these negotiations in the spirit that they are offered," she added. "It must cease violating international obligations, cease any efforts it is making — and has made in the past — toward achieving nuclear weapons."
In Tehran on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that a breakthrough in Geneva could be expected only if the talks are held under "equal" conditions and if Iran's rights are respected.
"If you want results from the talks, you must put aside the devil's temper and sit together under equal conditions on the basis of justice and respect ... and talk about various economic and nuclear fields, reach a deal and do joint work," Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.
Clinton is expected to discuss the Iran nuclear matter later this week at a security conference in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.