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US will accept Iran civilian nuclear programme: Report

world Updated: Apr 07, 2012 23:50 IST

President Barack Obama has told Iran the US will accept Tehran having a civilian nuclear programme if the Islamic state can prove it is not seeking atomic weapons, the Washington Post said.

Obama sent such a message to Tehran via Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who delivered it to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei last week, said the newspaper’s foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius.

“President Obama has signalled Iran that the US will accept an Iranian civilian nuclear programme if supreme leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent public claim that his nation ‘will never pursue nuclear weapons’,” said Ignatius.

“A few days before traveling to Iran, Erdogan had held a two-hour meeting with Obama in Seoul, in which they discussed what Erdogan would tell the ayatollah about the nuclear issue and Syria,” he wrote.

The US had said on Thursday that it still expected Iran to hold talks with six world powers on the its disputed nuclear programme to go ahead next week, despite a dispute on the venue being Istanbul or Baghdad.

According to Ignatius, Obama asked Erdogan to tell Khamenei “that the Iranians should realise that time is running out for a peaceful settlement and Tehran should take advantage of the window for negotiations.”

However, “Obama didn’t specify whether Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium domestically. That issue would be left for the negotiations.”

Turkey has told Iran it remains ready to host the talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, Iran’s Al-Alam television station reported on Friday, but the Islamic republic has said it wanted the meeting held in Baghdad or China instead.