SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State John kerry late on Thursday urged iran to make “real offers” and engage in a “real dialogue” in the upcoming nuclear talks with world powers, saying that is the only way to make progress.
“I want to reiterate that these talks can only make progress if the Iranians come to the table determined to make and discuss real offers and engage in a real dialogue,” kerry said at a press conference alongside visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before their meeting.
“Countries that have peaceful programs do not have problems proving to people that they are peaceful,” the newly-installed US chief diplomat stressed. “So we are not going to get trapped into a delay-after-delay process here.”
As iran agreed to start fresh talks with the so-called P5+1 group - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - on Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan, the Obama administration has time and again urged its arch-rival to engage in “substantive” negotiations over its disputed nuclear program in return for eased sanctions.
“I think it is incumbent on the Iranians to prove that they are prepared to meet our willingness, President Obama’s willingness, again and again stated by the President, to be open to a diplomatic resolution here,” kerry noted.
Iran and the West are locked in a bitter dispute over the former’s nuclear activities, with the latter accusing Tehran of developing nuclear weapon under a civilian cover, a charge iran has consistently denied.
On his part, the UN chief said, “US leadership will remain crucial in the period ahead.” The Secretary-General said there was much for the two men to discuss, including Syria, where nearly 70,000 people have been killed since the crisis began almost three years ago and “the tragedy continues to deepen without any prospect of a political resolution.”
Also on the agenda today was the crisis in Mali, the recent nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 “We all need to make special efforts to forge a two-State solution before the window of opportunity closes,” said Ban, who welcomed the plans of President Barack Obama and Secretary kerry to visit the region.
“It is important that the right of Israel to exist should be respected and also the viable Palestinian authorities, in terms of the political and financial situation, be supported so that both can live side by side in peace and security. That is a two-State solution,” he stated.
Ban also noted that at a time when families and government everywhere are feeling severe financial strains, the benefits of working with the UN are clear - burden-sharing, wise use of the global taxpayers’ money, and international solutions in the national interest.
“I look forward to strengthening the US-UN partnership and working closely with Secretary of State kerry towards our shared goals of peace, development, and human rights.”