Iran's top national security official has held talks with key Western diplomats after saying Tehran was willing to resume negotiations on its uranium enrichment plans, and assuring that his country's nuclear ambitions pose no threat to Israel.
But Ali Larijani also told a gathering of the world's top security officials that Iran would not suspend its nuclear programme as a precondition for negotiations and many, particularly from the US delegation, greeted his offer with skepticism.
"Offering to negotiate but saying suspension's off the table raises a real question about the sincerity of what he said," US Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M Kimmitt told reporters yesterday after Larijani's speech.
After talking before the forum of some 250 officials, including more than 40 defense and foreign ministers, Larijani held closed-doors meetings with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Javier Solana, the chief foreign policy envoy for the European Union.
It was the first time for him to meet with senior Western officials since negotiations with Solana collapsed last year over Tehran's refusal to suspend enrichment, a potential pathway to nuclear arms.
"We have had a good meeting, but not very long, and of course we have not solved all the problems," Solana told reporters after the meeting, refusing to go into details.
After all of his meetings, Larijani said that he had not talked with any Americans at the conference and indicated that Iran believed that negotiation through Europeans was most likely to produce a settlement.