US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is ready to hold bilateral talks with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
“We are working on the P5+1 (including the US, Britain, Russia, China, France, plus Germany) and making our willingness known that we are ready to have a bilateral discussion if they are…ready to engage,” Reuters quoted Clinton as saying on Saturday.
The US official further described Iran as the hardest issue she has dealt with as secretary of state.
Clinton’s comments come only a day after the US Senate approved a new round of sanctions against Iran in its latest effort to mount economic pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear energy program.
The new measures target the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) as well as the country’s energy, port, shipping and shipbuilding sectors.
Under the new rules, the United States would sanction anyone selling or supplying certain commodities to Iran — including graphite, aluminum, steel, and some industrial software — that are relevant to the country’s shipbuilding and nuclear sectors.
Senate aides confirmed that the new package also includes measures to stop the flow of gold from Turkey into Iran.
The US, Israel and some of their allies claim that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program with US and European Union using that claim as pretext to impose international and unilateral sanctions on Iran.
Tehran rejects the allegations against its nuclear energy activities, arguing that as a committed signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of International Atomic Energy Agency it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.