Last updated: 23 April, 2012

Iranian foreign minister optimistic on nuclear talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Monday he was optimistic about upcoming nuclear talks in Baghdad with world powers.

Iran resumed dialogue on its nuclear capabilities April 14 at talks in Istanbul with the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members — France, the US, Britain, China and Russia — plus Germany.

“The results of the meeting in Istanbul were satisfactory and I am optimistic about the next meeting in Baghdad,” he told reporters during a two-day official visit to Tunisia.

The Baghdad talks are planned for May 23.

The Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran over suspicions that its avowed civilian nuclear programme is a cover for a secret atomic weapons drive, a charge vigorously denied by Tehran.

Salehi downplayed threats Israel has made to launch pre-emptive attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites.

“Israel’s threats to attack Iran are a bluff,” he said. “But we take them seriously and are ready to defend ourselves.”