EU calls on Iran to respond to US overtures

EU calls on Iran to respond to US overturesLuxembourg - European Union foreign ministers Monday called on Iran to respond positively to the United States' recent diplomatic overtures and help find a negotiated solution to the nuclear standoff. "The EU warmly supports the new direction of US policy towards Iran, which opens a window of opportunity for negotiations on all aspects of Iran's nuclear programme," ministers said in a joint statement issued during talks in Luxembourg.

"The EU calls upon Iran to seize this opportunity to engage seriously with the international community in a spirit of mutual respect," ministers said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has so far offered only tepid responses to US President Barack Obama's calls for dialogue, and the EU's top diplomats warned Monday that relations between Iran and their 27-member bloc would depend on Tehran engaging "seriously with the international community."

Iran is suspected of trying to equip itself with nuclear weapons through a uranium enrichment programme which Ahmadinejad insists is only for civilian use.

Mirek Topolanek, the outgoing prime minister of the Czech Republic, recently accused the EU of "underestimating" Iran's nuclear threat.

EU foreign ministers responded to Topolanek indirectly on Monday by insisting that "Iran's nuclear programme remains a matter of grave concern for the international community."

The Czech Republic currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, but Topolanek's government was toppled by a no-confidence vote last month, and a caretaker government is now due to take office in early May. (dpa)