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. Iran awaits 'concrete offer' from US: speaker
BERLIN, Feb 8 (AFP) Feb 08, 2009
Iranian parliament speaker Ari Larijani, in an interview released Sunday, said Tehran is ready to talk with Washington "without pre-conditions" but is waiting for a "concrete" offer from the new US administration.

"The dispute over the nuclear issue is not an unsolvable problem if we stop being entrenched in our positions," Larijani told the daily Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"We are ready to talk without pre-conditions. But for that, we need a real starting point," the former nuclear negotiator said in the interview to be published Monday.

"It the Americans are really willing to resolve the problems, then they must present their concept," he said.

The interview came one day after US Vice President Joe Biden cautiously reached out to Iran at an international security conference in Munich, Germany.

"We will be willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down the current course and there will be continued pressure and isolation; abandon the illicit nuclear programme and your support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives," Biden said.

Larijani said Iran so far has not received "any concrete offer" from President Barack Obama's administration and that "declarations in interviews or in speeches" were not enough.

"We have heard in media that the Americans would also be ready to talk with us without pre-conditions. But the old cliches about carots and sticks continue nevertheless," he added.

The United States and its Western allies believe Tehran is aiming to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy programme.

Iran denies its nuclear programme is military in nature and has pressed on with uranium enrichment, insisting that it will be used solely for peaceful purposes geared toward electricity generation.

To convince Iran to suspend enrichment, which at highly refined levels can be used to make an atomic bomb, major powers have offered it a package of political and economic incentives.

Biden's comments marked a break between Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, who once labelled Iran a member of an "Axis of Evil." US-Iran relations have been frozen for three decades.

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