Iran sees new "opportunity" in nuke talks: envoy
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran believes next month's talks with major powers worried about its nuclear strategy represents a real opportunity, the Iranian ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said.
"This is a real, new window of opportunity that is being opened by the Iranian nation," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told The Washington Post in an interview published on its website late on Thursday.
"They should immediately and promptly seize this opportunity."
Soltanieh repeated Iran's position that it would not agree to use the October 1 meeting with the United States and other major powers to negotiate away its right to a nuclear program.
He said the meeting should be a forum for a broad exchange of views.
"When you sit down at a negotiating table without preconditions, with mutual respect, the rules of the game are that everyone has a right to raise anything. No one can restrict the other to express themselves," he said.
The international group, known as the P-5 plus 1, is made up of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- as well as Germany.
The meeting is a move toward President Barack Obama's pledge during the campaign last year to try to improve relations with Tehran through more direct contacts. The two countries have not had diplomatic ties since 1980.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week any talks with Iran would have to address the nuclear issue. The United States and other major powers are concerned the nuclear enrichment program is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon, but Iran says it is for producing nuclear energy.
Soltanieh, who represents Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran would not respond well to a dual "carrot-and-stick" approach offering a choice between dialogue or sanctions, which he called humiliating.
"If you tell me 'You must,' I say 'no.' If you say 'please,' the answer might be 'yes' or 'maybe,'" he said.
(Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Xavier Briand)
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