Ahmadinejad: Tehran to respond in a positive way if US adopts a genuinely new approach; Ahmadinejad holds talks with EAM Pranab Mukherjee; Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister requests the US not to go soft on Iran
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  • Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad stated that if the US adopted a genuinely new approach to his country, Tehran would respond in a positive way. He also appreciated the changing behaviour of the US and its officials. Ahmadinejad asserted that the Iranian work plan, which was a follow-up to the original proposal in 2006, offered nuclear cooperation as well as prospects for increased trade in energy, high technology, and agriculture1.

    Meanwhile, EAM Pranab Mukherjee held talks with Mr. Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the 15th meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran on August 30. The focus of the meeting was on development of energy ties and cross-border transportation links. A senior Indian official told reporters that both sides reaffirmed their desire to purposefully move forward on energy-related matters. Both countries were also working on developing a route linking the Iranian port of Chabahar to Afghanistan and Central Asia2.

    US officials on their part alleged that Iran had failed to win much support for its nuclear drive from its friends in the NAM. State Department officials pointed out that a draft statement containing references to Iran’s right to have a fuel cycle program for peaceful purposes was deleted in the final formulation3.

    Reports noted that Israeli officials have expressed displeasure at the recent US engagement with Iran and have called on the Bush administration to stand firm on demanding Tehran abandon its nuclear projects. In a shift of policy, US diplomat William Burns had joined envoys from other world powers for a July 19 meeting with an Iranian delegation, during which Tehran was given a time frame of two weeks to heed calls to curb uranium enrichment or face the prospect of more sanctions. Iran has however vowed to press ahead with its nuclear plans. In a meeting with Mr. Burns, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz urged the US to set firm conditions - such as a refusal to allow the Iranians to enrich uranium on their turf, and to be clear that the deadline must be preserved. The State Department on its part issued a statement after the Mofaz-Burns meeting insisting that the possibility of using force against Iran was not discussed4.