Iran's Chief Nuclear Negotiator to Start Talks with Six World Powers

Iranian state media announce, Iran has agreed to begin negotiations with six world powers on global economic and security problems in October.

Iranian media say Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili agreed to launch the talks next month in a phone call Monday with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The United States and five other world powers: Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China accepted an Iranian offer last week to hold wide-ranging negotiations. But they have not yet confirmed a date or a venue.

The Obama administration says it will raise the issue of Iran's nuclear program during the talks, despite Iran's stated refusal to discuss the matter. Western nations accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies, Voice of America reports.
In the meantime, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet with Iranian officials in less than a month to discuss the Islamic republic's recent proposal on its disputed nuclear program.

The meeting has been scheduled for October 1 "to get further details about Iran's proposal," Solana's representative said.The details of the meeting with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, are still being worked out, including the location, the representative said.

Last week,Iran released a five-page proposal to diplomatic representatives of the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members, plus Germany and the EU. The proposal was short on specifics and couched in flowery language but reiterated Iran's unwillingness to give up its nuclear program.

Iranian President repeated that message Sunday, saying his nation is ready to negotiate on a variety of issues but not on its nuclear program, according to state-run media.

The United States and other Western nations are concerned Tehran is concealing a nuclear weapons program, but Iran insists its program is strictly for civilian power.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the United States would try to engage diplomatically with Iran but said it was not "an open-ended offer."

Gates said he hoped Iran would answer questions about its nuclear program in time for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, which begins Tuesday, CNN reports.

News agencies also reported, Iran's nuclear chief negotiator says his country is ready to defend itself against any military attack.Ali Akhbar Salehi says threats of force against Iran only add to the country's determination to protect itself.

Salehi spoke Monday on the first day of the 150-nation general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Both Israel and the U.S. have suggested that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities remains a last option should it continue to defy international demands to curb its atomic program.

Washington insists that diplomacy is the preferred route. The U.S. and five other world powers last week offered to meet with Tehran, The Associated Press reports.