TEHRAN, Iran Iran is inviting Western representatives for discussions of why Tehran is continuing uranium enrichment in the face of international sanctions threats, the foreign minister said Saturday.
"We don't see any logic to suspending uranium enrichment. Enrichment of uranium by Iran is a legal action derived from its membership rights in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters.
"But we are ready to hold talks about the reason for enrichment," he said.
Iran has been locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program. A draft United Nations resolution on Iran is expected to be introduced in the Security Council early next week, and diplomats have said they would seek limited sanctions on Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
Mottaki's comments came a day after French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said her country would be willing to suspend the drive for sanctions if Iran takes steps toward resolving questions over its nuclear program. France has veto power on the Security Council.
Iran says its nuclear pursuits are peaceful and energy-related. But the United States and some in Europe accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Enrichment is a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead.
On Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the U.N. Security Council and its decisions "illegitimate," saying the world body was being used as a political tool by Iran's enemies — the United States and Britain.
"Dialogue is the best way to reach an understanding ... we recommend the West to return to talks and avoid testing a path they have already tested," Mottaki told a news conference on Saturday. He didn't elaborate.
"The time for language of force is over. The West has tested threats in our region. We invite them to sincerely return to talks," he said.
"We are confident that there is possibility of negotiations as an appropriate solution to reach a comprehensive understanding," Mottaki said at a joint news conference with Belarusian Foreiggn Minister Sergei Martynov.
"Belarus thinks that Iran is entitled to carry out any activity envisaged within the NPT. There is no obstacle for Iran to do so," said Martynov, whose country is adamantly opposed to U.S. foreign policy.