Ali Akbar Salehi

The Iranian Foreign Minister welcomed recent statements by the U.S. Vice President about direct talks, saying: “Negotiations can only begin if we are assured of the honesty of Americans.”

Ali Akbar Salehi told Euro News in Germany that in previous instances, Iranians have not had a positive experience with the U.S.

Reuters also reported that Salehi has said that Iran will examine Joe Biden’s bid for direct talks with “a positive frame of mind.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday February 2 that the U.S. is prepared to enter into direct negotiations with Iran.

Reuters quoted Biden at a security conference in Munich on Saturday saying: “We have made it clear at the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership, we would not make it a secret that we were doing that, we would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself.”

“That offer stands,” he added. “But it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to.”

Iran and the U.S. cut off diplomatic relations in 1979 after the fall of the Iranian monarchy, when the U.S. embassy was over taken by Iranian student activists who claimed it was a centre of espionage.

The nuclear talks between Iran and the G5+1 have so far reached an impasse, and plans to meet again in January were postponed indefinitely.

In the meantime, since the summer of 2012, the U.S. and the EU have imposed severe sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sector, which has had a severe impact on the Iranian economy, creating serious shortages in the country, especially in the medical drugs sector.

Iranian sensibilities remain divided about the prospect of direct talks with the U.S. Recently, seven former Iranian lawmakers living abroad issued a statement saying “transparent bilateral talks” with the U.S. on the nuclear issue could be “beneficial and effective.”

Earlier, a statement by Iran’s Nationalist-Religious figures warned the Iranian establishment that under the current closed political atmosphere, with many prominent political figures jailed or under house arrest, the government has tarnished its legitimacy, and entering negotiations under such circumstances would put it at a disadvantage from the start.

The Nationalist-Religious activists urged the government to open the political arena in time for the coming presidential election in June, to release all political prisoners and to address any possible talks with the U.S. after these developments.