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WASHINGTON (AFP) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said in an interview with a US magazine that Tehran would consider direct talks over its nuclear program with the Bush administration.
Washington's claims that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies, has prompted a tense diplomatic hiatus as world powers seek a solution to the dispute.
Larijani also said in the interview for Time magazine's online edition, published Monday, that Iran's response would not be a "pleasant one" if its territory or "installations" were attacked by Israel.
Asked why Iran does not talk directly with Washington, Larijani replied: "We have no problems in negotiating on nuclear issues, and also issues of interest to Muslims, things that will bring calm to the region, provided that they are honest and that Mr. Bush does not harangue us."
Asked what the dispute's worst case scenario would be, Larijani -- who is also Iran's foreign policy chief -- said "there's a general rule that he who shoots first, dies in the second phase. If they take action, the response will not be a very pleasant one for them."
"We shall definitely defend. Don't doubt that for a second. We shall not stand idly by and watch Israelis attack our installations," he said.