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      Rouhani: We're Ready for Final Nuclear Talks

      Permanent nuclear agreement is possible if the West is "honest and serious", says Iranian President.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 2/5/2014, 4:42 AM

      Iran's President Hassan Rouhani
      Iran's President Hassan Rouhani
      Reuters

      Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday his country is ready for final nuclear talks with world powers, reports The Associated Press (AP).

      The remarks came during a meeting with visiting Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.

      "We are fully ready for the final phase of talks and achieving their conclusion," the Iranian IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying.

      He said if the West is "honest and serious" then there is possibility of reaching an agreement.

      The Swedish website The Local reported that Bildt said, during a meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that “if there is a good will on both sides a deal is possible within a very ambitious time scale of six months."

      "It's not going to be easy and it requires a genuine will for compromises on both sides," Bildt said. "The benefits that are there for both sides are so obvious."

      The six-month interim nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers went into effect on January 20.

      Under the agreement, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium. In return, the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

      On Saturday, Iran received the first installment of $4.2 billion in frozen assets.

      Even as the interim deal has begun to be implemented, Iran’s leaders have continued their statements against Western countries.

      On Friday, senior Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami encouraged Iranian negotiators to stick to the “culture of resistance” while holding talks with Western powers.

      Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry  said the military option was still on the table if Iran fails to live up to its part of the agreement that was signed with it in Geneva.

      In response, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested that the Americans “exercise self-restraint.”

      Meanwhile, a French business delegation travelled to Tehran earlier this week for meetings with officials and business leaders.

      The prospect of a relaxation of trade restrictions has whetted the appetite of French firms eager to win back business in a country of around 80 million people where some previously had extensive operations.

      France’s Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said that France will have "significant commercial opportunities" in Iran if sanctions are lifted, but Tehran first has to prove its good faith in abiding by nuclear undertakings.