Iran wants to open direct talks with Washington on nuclear issues, a report in the New York Times said Friday. The report quoted the head of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, as telling U.S. officials that Iran was interested in the discussions.
The offer was presented by al-Maliki at the beginning of July, when he met with American officials in Baghdad. Al-Maliki said that the offer was made by officials in Iran who were interested in improving relations with the West. However, American analysts quoted in the report said they could not confirm if the request came from Iranian officials or if it had been approved by Iran's top imam, Ali Khameini.
The report quoted Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, as saying “Iraq is a partner of the United States and we are in regular conversations with Iraqi officials about a full range of issues of mutual interest, including Iran. As we have repeatedly said, we are open to direct talks with Iran in order to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”
In an unconnected development, the report said, the U.S. on Thursday announced that it was removing a number of medical devices that could be sold to Iran without a license. Among the devices are dialysis machines. A State Department spokesperson, David Cohen, said that the move was designed to “accelerate trade” with Iran, as well as for humanitarian assistance.