Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has welcomed US interest in holding direct talks with Iran, but says Washington's threats are not consistent with invitation to talks. Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the 49th Munich Security Conference on Sunday, Salehi said Iran welcomes the recent proposals by the US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry for direct Tehran-Washington talks. “A look at the past shows that whenever we have had talks with the Americans including efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan, unfortunately the other side (Americans) has failed to fulfill its obligations,” he stated. The United States and Iran engaged in substantive diplomatic talks in the 2001 Bonn conference on Afghanistan, but former US President George W. Bush named Iran a member of the “Axis of Evil” in the aftermath of the talks, Salehi said.
“You cannot use a threatening tone and say all options are on the table, on the one hand, while talking about negotiations, on the other hand, [because] this is an apparent contradiction…. Exerting pressure and [invitation to] talks are not compatible. If you have honest intentions we can place serious negotiations on the agenda,” Iranian foreign minister added.Salehi noted that the Islamic Republic is prepared to hold negotiations on the nuclear issue but “talks with the US must be fair and with a real intent to resolve the problem at hand.” Tehran and Washington severed diplomatic relations following the victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. The Swiss Embassy in Tehran has been serving as Washington's interest section, while Pakistan Embassy in Washington has been Tehran’s interest section. MP/HGH/SS