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Iran proposes nuclear talks ahead of global summit on sanctions

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With pressure building for negotiations over its controversial nuclear program, Iran’s leadership launched what appeared to be a new diplomatic offensive.

As world leaders convene this week in Germany to discuss the possibility of sanctions, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Tuesday proposed a new package for discussions, although the terms were not disclosed.

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And as a deadline for direct talks with Washington draws near, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that he will attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s UN visit presents an opportunity for direct talks. But given the controversy and violence his election has generated, Washington may not welcome him.

Last year Iran submitted a proposal for talks to the G5+1 – the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China. But the package was rejected as unsatisfactory.

On Tuesday, according to the Tehran Times, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili, announced a new proposal, although he did not disclose its terms.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran… is ready for cooperation to address shared concerns in the international arena,” Jalili told reporters in Tehran.He said that Iran’s new package of proposals seeks to promote “justice and peace and progress” in the world.

The State Department said it has not received any new proposal yet but would review one “seriously and with mutual respect,” Voice of America reports.

US President Barack Obama had earlier offered to hold direct talks with Iran, setting a Sept.15 deadline for a response. But since massive violence wracked Iran after Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June, there are questions over whether or not US officials would now allow such talks.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Jalili's comments were the most substantive official remarks on the nuclear issue since Iran's contentious June 12 election and could give the Obama administration, which has offered to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program, an opportunity to try to engage Tehran before resorting to a fresh round of sanctions.”

But US officials may be in no mood for direct talks, the Washington Post notes.

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“[T]he prospects for direct talks with the Iranian leadership appeared dim in light of the violent post-election crackdown. In July, the United States disinvited Iranian diplomats from attending Fourth of July celebrations at American diplomatic missions and embassies.”

The Post adds that Iranians are not exactly keen to hold talks with the US either.

Ahmadinejad press adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr declined to comment on the Iranian government's position on the U.S. offer of talks. Iranian leaders, who are reeling from the worst political crisis since the 1979 revolution, have said they need more evidence that U.S. policies have shifted in their favor before they agree to negotiate.