Germany says world powers still ready to talk to Iran

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Germany expressed disappointment Sunday that talks in Istanbul failed to persuade Iran to take steps to ease suspicions over its nuclear programme but said it was still willing to negotiate.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Germany and the other five world powers seeking a "diplomatic solution" to the conflict over Iran's nuclear programme had presented viable proposals for confidence-building measures.

"Unfortunately Iran was not yet ready to take such substantial confidence-building steps with regard to its nuclear programme," he said in a statement.

"We will now intensively consult with our partners (in the P5+1 group, comprised of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany) to discuss the way forward. We are still prepared for talks. I hope that Iran is ready to take the outstretched hand of the international community."

The two-day talks in Istanbul between Iran and the six world powers ended without progress Saturday and no new meeting was scheduled to tackle concerns that Tehran is secretly developing an atomic bomb.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful, but has refused to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which can be used to make nuclear fuel or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

Its defiance has prompted four sets of UN sanctions, coupled with a series of sanctions imposed unilaterally by the United States and the EU.

© 2011 AFP

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