U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the United States will join the European Union in talks with Iran as soon as Iran suspends uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.
"To underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU colleagues and meet with Iran's representative," Rice said at a press conference held at the State Department.
Rice said that the United States has agreed with the EU over the "essential elements of a package" on Iran's nuclear issue. "We hope that in the coming days the Iranian government will thoroughly consider this proposal," Rice said.
The EU has put forward a package of both incentives, including providing a light-water reactor to Iran, and possible penalties if Iran fails to cooperate.
Rice challenged the Iranian regime to make a fundamental choice by either maintaining the current course, pursuing nuclear weapons, or altering the present course and cooperating in resolving the nuclear issue beginning by immediately resuming suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
Iran will "incur great costs" if it pursues nuclear weapons, Rice warned.
The Swiss ambassador to the United States has been asked to convey a copy of Rice's remarks to the Iranian side as the United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran.
However, White House spokesman Tony Snow said earlier Wednesday that the United States will not engage in one-on-one talks with Iran.
Nonetheless, this is seen as a clear policy shift by the Bush administration as it has repeatedly rejected calls to negotiate with Iran.