WASHINGTON: - Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki says his country might consider suggestions of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on opening an US interest section in Tehran -- comments coming amid possible progress in negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme. "Contacts between Iranians and the American people will be a useful step for better understanding of the two nations," he told reporters at U.N. Headquarters in New York after addressing the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has approved studying the idea of putting U.S. diplomats in an "interests section" that would be hosted by a third party's embassy in Teheran. Interests sections are a way to let a country post diplomats in a nation with which it has no formal diplomatic relations. At present, Switzerland represent U.S. interests in Tehran. In Washington, Iranian officials staff an interests section in the Pakistani Embassy. If the U.S. did open such an outpost, it would be the country's first diplomatic presence in Iran since the two nations severed relations in 1979 after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by students loyal to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Mottaki said Iran has proposed resuming flights between Tehran and New York "for facilitating visits to Iran of the Iranian nationals living in the United States." He said Iran supports academic and sports exchanges between the two countries. "Iranian academics and students have invited their American counterparts to the country to share their research and scientific achievements." . The interests-section idea has emerged amid efforts to resolve the differences between the West and Iran over Iran's nuclear programme. Western countries, led by the United States, want Iran to stop enriching uranium because the claim that the country wants to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says it wants to use nuclear power solely for energy.