UPDATE 2-Iran says it, world powers must end nuclear stalemate
DUBAI Dec 17 (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister said on Monday a way must be found to end the protracted deadlock between Iran and six world powers over Tehran's nuclear programme.
"The two sides have reached a conclusion that they must exit the current stalemate," Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency.
Big powers suspect Iran is trying to develop the means to build atomic bombs under the cover of a declared civilian nuclear energy programme. The Islamic Republic denies this.
Iran and the six powers - the United States, Russia, France, China, Britain and Germany - have expressed readiness to revive efforts to find a negotiated solution to the decade-old dispute to head off the risk of a shattering new war in the Middle East.
Salehi said he did not know when the next round of talks would be held, according to ISNA.
The six powers said last week that they hoped soon to agree with Iran to hold a new round of nuclear negotiations.
U.S. ally Israel - believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal - has threatened to bomb the nuclear sites of its arch-enemy Iran if diplomacy and economic sanctions intended to get Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment prove futile.
Analysts and diplomats believe there is a window of opportunity for a new diplomatic initiative with Iran after last month's re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The six powers want Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment programme and cooperate fully with U.N. nuclear inspectors. Iran wants the West to lift punitive sanctions wreaking serious damage to its economy.
Salehi spoke a few days after the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran both said progress was made in talks last Thursday on resuming a long-stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atomic bomb research in the Islamic Republic.
The U.N. watchdog said it expected to finalise an agreement on how the inquiry should be conducted in a meeting set for Jan. 16. The IAEA-Iran talks are separate but closely linked to the broader political negotiations between Tehran and the powers.