Washington, Feb 23 (IANS) The US Department of State has reaffirmed the willingness to engage with Tehran over the nuclear issue, downplaying new threats by the Iranian leadership to boost uranium enrichment.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday in a daily press briefing that the US is willing to engage the Iranians in the context of the P5+1, namely the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, as well as Germany, Xinhua news agency reported.
Tehran has yet to make a formal response to talks with P5+1, said Price. "We certainly hope the Iranians will be willing to be there."
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said earlier in the day that his country could increase its uranium enrichment up to 60 per cent.
"We are not going to respond in specific terms to hypotheticals, to posturing," Price said in response to Khamenei's comments.
"What we are going to do is to reaffirm the proposition that is on the table," he added. "The United States is willing to meet with the Iranians to hash out these difficult complex questions."
Price also commended recent efforts made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to engage Iran on verification issues, while expressing concerns over Iran's ending implementation of Additional Protocol, which allows snap IAEA inspections.
The UN nuclear watchdog reached a temporary understanding with Iran over the weekend on the verification of the latter's nuclear program.
According to the IAEA, Tehran would cease implementing the Additional Protocol but would continue to allow "necessary monitoring and verification" for up to three months.
"There is less access, let's face it. But still we were able to retain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification work," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters after his visit to Tehran.
Grossi said this temporary agreement would allow other political discussions at other levels to take place.
Last week, the US signaled its readiness to engage with Tehran over the nuclear issue, combining several goodwill gestures toward Iran.
The US had eased travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats assigned to the UN and rescinded the so-called "snapback" UN sanctions against Iran unilaterally declared by the previous administration.
The Joe Biden administration repeatedly said that if Iran returns to full compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the United States would do the same. But Iran insisted its compliance would only take place once US sanctions were removed.
In response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and the reimposition of sanctions, Iran has suspended implementing parts of its obligations under the deal.
New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Oil marketing companies have spared consumers of yet another petrol and diesel price hike even though the global oil market is on the boil with crude reaching within touching distance of year-high-level of $70 a barrel.
Petrol continues to be priced at Rs 91.17 a litre and diesel Rs 81.47 a litre in the capital on Saturday. Across the country too, the petrol and diesel price remained unchanged.
This is seventh consecutive day when pump prices of auto fuels have remains unchanged.
After a spike in global oil prices seen over last two weeks with crude price jumping close to $67 a barrel, prices had fallen to around $63 a barrel but it rose again to cross $69 a barrel mark now after after the OPEC+ decision to continue with crude production cut in April.
Petrol and diesel prices have been rising continuously since February 9. In the 14 increases since then, price have gone up by Rs 4.22 per litre for petrol while diesel rate has risen by Rs 4.34 a litre in Delhi.
The increase in the previous weeks has taken petrol to cross historic high levels of Rs 100 a litre in several cities across the country.
The petrol and diesel prices have increased 26 times in 2021 with the two auto fuels increasing by Rs 7.46 and Rs 7.60 per litre, respectively so far this year.
Oil companies executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent OMCs from making loss on sale of auto fuels.