VIENNA, Austria The French foreign minister welcomed U.S. plans to attend talks with Iran on its disputed nuclear program but said Thursday that he did not expect much from the meeting.
The U.S. State Department's third-ranking diplomat will join other world powers at the Saturday talks in Geneva with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator a break with past Bush administration policy.
World powers have offered Iran incentives to halt uranium enrichment, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he rejects that condition and the talks will focus on "common" points instead.
"To tell you that I have a lot of hope in this beginning of dialogue would be a little premature," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters, adding it was important to be both hopeful and "vigilant."
"I'm very hopeful but I don't expect anything," he said.
He said France had spoken to Iran on a number of occasions without any results and was always left somewhat disappointed.
France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
At the meeting being led by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Jalili is expected to give Iran's definitive answer to the incentives offered to Tehran last month by the United States and five other nations in exchange for its suspension of enrichment, which can produce the fissile material needed for a bomb.
Undersecretary of State William J. Burns will not negotiate with Jalili but officials said he will listen to his presentation of Iran's final answer to the package.
The U.S. has stayed out of past talks.
"Our U.S. friends are joining the dialogue it's very interesting and it's a new attitude," Kouchner said, adding that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had informed him about the development on Wednesday.
"This is an additional asset no doubt," he told reporters at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.