Iran''s chief nuclear negotiator spoke with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana after the Islamic Republic said it was ready for talks with six world powers, Iranian media reported on Thursday.

Responding to the powers'' invitation to discuss the long-running dispute over Iran''s nuclear program, Tehran said on Wednesday said it welcomed "constructive" talks but that it would press ahead with work to develop atomic energy.

State radio said Saeed Jalili, Iran''s top nuclear negotiator, spoke with Solana on the telephone a few hours after Tehran released its response in a statement.

It quoted Solana, who had been asked by world powers including the United States to invite Tehran to a meeting, as saying the Iranian statement "contains constructive items and a new opportunity for advancement of talks."

Jalili said Iran''s response "contains a new suitable orientation for the advancement of talks in an atmosphere of mutual respect and fairness," the radio report said.

The United States and its Western allies suspect Iran is aiming to develop nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian program and want it to halt sensitive uranium enrichment. Iran rejects the allegation and says it will not bow to pressure.