Iran describes nuke talks as 'constructive'


GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, called nuclear talks Saturday with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana constructive, but didn't say whether whether Iran would accept a recent EU nuclear proposal.

Solana told a news conference he hoped to hear a decision from Iran in two weeks.

Also attending the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, was U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, who did not talk at the briefing.

EU officials, the United States, Russia and China -- who hope to jump-start stalled nuclear talks with Iran -- proposed in early July that the United Nations halt further sanctions on that nation for six weeks if Iran takes a six-week break from manufacturing centrifuges that enrich uranium.

The proposal is meant to address Western concerns that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons. Iran says it only is pursuing nuclear power for energy purposes.

A senior U.S. administration official told CNN Wednesday that Washington simply wants to remind Tehran that there are consequences -- possibly more sanctions -- if Tehran doesn't accept the offer of the refreshed incentives.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Burns would be under strict orders that he can listen but not engage in one-on-one discussions with Jalili. If possible, McCormack said, Burns would hammer home the U.S. position that Iran can end its political and economic isolation if it stops enriching uranium.

The decision to send Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, is meant to send a strong signal but does not indicate a change of the U.S. position on Iran, McCormack said.

Until now, U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted that the United States would talk to Iran only after Tehran halted its nuclear program.

EU officials have said they wanted the meeting to advance discussions with Iran and break the deadlock over the country's nuclear activities.

Iranian officials expressed hope that Saturday's talks would be held in a new atmosphere of trust with no threats.

The U.S. participation in the talks is a "new positive approach," Mottaki said Friday, in comments carried by IRNA.

"I hope this progress (in the format) will also have (an) impact on the content of the talks," Mottaki said.

McCormack and others refused to predict whether sending Burns to the Saturday meeting will set off a carefully executed series of diplomatic maneuvers, the first of which would be for Iran to "freeze" its nuclear program while the United States and its allies freeze any new sanctions, followed by a formal "suspension" on both sides.