EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday she is "cautious and optimistic" about the prospect for Iran to return to nuclear talks with world powers, following a letter she received from Tehran.
"I think it's good to see that the letter has arrived," Ashton told reporters at a press conference in Washington with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"There is a potential possibility that Iran may be ready to start talks. We'll continue to discuss and make sure that what we're looking at is substantive," Ashton said.
"But I'm cautious and optimistic at the same time for this," she added.
In a February 14 letter, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told world powers that Tehran is ready to resume stalled nuclear talks at the "earliest" opportunity as long as they respect its right to peaceful atomic energy.
He addressed the letter to Ashton, who represents the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia in the talks.
"We voice our readiness for dialogue on a spectrum of various issues which can provide ground for constructive and forward looking cooperation," Jalili wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP.
Ashton had written in her letter to Jalili in October that a solution was possible only if the talks focused on addressing Western concerns over the nature of Iran's nuclear program.
The United States and other Western powers suspect that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran denies the charge, insisting it is merely trying to meet its energy needs.
The last round of talks collapsed in Turkey in January 2011.© ANP/AFP