The US has accepted an offer from Iran to hold direct talks on a range of issues, the New York Times reports, despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's insistence that the country's nuclear enrichment program will not be on the negotiating table. State Department officials say they will still press Iran on the nuclear issue during the unconditional talks, which will also include Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.
The talks could become the first major direct ones between the US and Iran since 1979. Administration officials stress, however, that their expectations are low, and that they see talks as a necessary step before imposing harsher sanctions on Iran if necessary. "The ball is in Iran’s court whether it is prepared to seriously engage in the nuclear issue, as well as others," a State Department.