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Diplomats from Iran and the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- the P5+1 -- have agreed to meet for direct talks on October 1, 2009. Under Secretary of State William Burns will represent the United States at the meeting.
Iran's agreement to meet with the P5 +1 came 5 months after the P5+1 offered Iran a renewed package of incentives and direct negotiations with the United States if it would engage in discussions over its controversial nuclear program.
On September 9, Iran presented representatives of the P5+1 with a proposal of its own, saying it would negotiate on a broad range of global security issues. Iran's proposal made no mention of its nuclear program or demands by the United Nations Security Council, including the demand for greater transparency and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the P5+1 intends to address "head on" the issue of Iran's failure to live up to its international obligations concerning its nuclear program:
"This is going to be front and center in our talks with them on October 1. We are not planning to start a whole new process here. We are going to sit down and have the opportunity to explain to them directly what their choice is."
That choice, said Mr. Kelly, is that Iran "can go down one path that leads to integration with the international community or they can continue down another path which leads to isolation, and that's the path we're concerned they're on now because they're not meeting their obligations to the international community."
The United States and its partners in the P5+1 have repeatedly said that Iran has the right to pursue a civilian nuclear program, but also, that rights come with responsibilities and Iran needs to restore confidence that its nuclear work is solely for peaceful purposes.
Mr. Kelly said that direct talks offer a chance for all to talk through the best means to reach a common goal:
"That Iran understands that it has obligations as well as rights, and the obligations are to provide more transparency into this nuclear program that they've started."
Mr. Kelly said in the upcoming meeting the P5+1 will lay out the choice for Iran's leaders in a very stark fashion. "We want to explore this avenue," he said. "We want to have this opportunity to sit down with them and for us to present the international community's concerns face to face."