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Biden Urges Iran To Engage Seriously

An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (file)

The United States is prepared to hold direct talks with the Iranian government about its nuclear program.

Speaking at a major international security conference in Munich, Germany, Vice President Joe Biden said the United States is prepared to hold direct talks with the Iranian government about its nuclear program. Asked when the U.S. may do so, he answered, “When the Iranian leadership, Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei], is serious.”

Biden Urges Iran To Engage Seriously
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Mr. Biden said the Obama administration “made it clear at the outset that. . .we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership. . .That offer stands,” he said, “but it must be real and tangible, and there has to be an agenda that they’re prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise.”

Mr. Biden also said that it was “past time for Tehran to adopt a serious, good-faith approach to negotiations with the P5+1,” the group of six nations, including Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, that met with Iran for a series of discussions in 2012, but which yielded no substantial agreement.

In recent months, the P5+1 has proposed a number of dates and venues to Iran to renew discussions in order to make concrete progress in dealing with international concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranian negotiating team has now confirmed that they will meet with the P5+1 in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 26th.

Vice President Biden said, “There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court.” He said that President Barack Obama “has made it clear to Iranian leaders, our policy is not containment. . .It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. But,” Mr. Biden said, “we’ve also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation.”