Today's big step: The United States and Iran, poised to meet today in Geneva in their first face-to-face talks on Iran's nuclear program, sent more signals Friday that they may be ready to step away from confrontation and begin a grueling process to resolve three decades of hostility.
Iran's take: Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Friday praised President Bush's decision to send Undersecretary of State William Burns to the Geneva talks as "a new positive approach." He said he hoped that deals could be reached on direct air links between Iran and the United States and the opening of the first U.S. diplomatic office in Tehran since 1979.
U.S. conditions: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated Friday that the Bush administration won't enter full-scale negotiations with Iran until it agrees to a full freeze of uranium enrichment. American officials have insisted that Burns' presence will be a "one-time event" and he will listen to the Iranians but will not be negotiating.
Background: Until now, the Bush administration had refused to hold direct talks with Iran, except under the precondition that Iran heed U.N. demands to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce nuclear-weapons fuel. The policy shift follows months of rising tensions over the nuclear issue.
Today's talks: Today's talks between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, were called to hear the formal Iranian response to a package of incentives offered by the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. In return, Iran must suspend its uranium enrichment work -- something it's repeatedly refused to do, arguing it is only for energy purposes.