By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's top leader said on Thursday that the West failed to offer any concessions during the latest talks aimed at resolving a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.
Remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which were broadcast on Iranian state TV, were his first public comments on last week's talks with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
"The Westerners did not do any substantial work that could be interpreted as concessions," said Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters. "They, minimally, admitted part of (the) rights of the Iranian nation, only."
However, Khamenei showed interest in continuing the talks saying, "Iran will judge intentions of the West in the next talks."
Khamenei's comments contrasted with the message an Iranian official conveyed at last week's talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Saeed Jalili, Iran's top official at diplomatic talks, hailed a proposal issued by the world powers, saying it represented a "turning point" that showed they were willing to compromise on Tehran's uranium enrichment program after years of delicate negotiations that nearly dissolved last June. Iran denies that it wants nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is for generating energy and medical research.
The proposal allows Iran to keep a limited amount of highly enriched uranium, but not make any more; stops short of demanding the full shutdown of an underground nuclear facility; and offers to remove some trade sanctions that have hurt Iran's economy.
Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister and a member of Iran's negotiating team, said Thursday that the upcoming nuclear talks could end in an understanding.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran expects the ground for achieving understanding to be paved in the next meeting," Araghchi told foreign ambassadors in Tehran. He said Iran expects "necessary good will and flexibility" from the other side of the negotiating table.
On Tuesday, Iran said the nuclear talks with world powers last week had yielded "positive results," although it assailed "negative" remarks by some Western officials following those negotiations.
On Wednesday, Joseph Macmanus, the chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, accused Iran of "deception, defiance and delay" in addressing international concerns about its nuclear activities. He also suggested that the U.S. might push for tougher diplomatic action in the coming months.