New York Times: Iran’s foreign minister raised new doubts on Wednesday about the resumption of international talks over its disputed nuclear program, saying the location may not be Turkey — as previously agreed — and suggested Iraq and China as possible alternate hosts. The New York Times
By RICK GLADSTONE
Iran’s foreign minister raised new doubts on Wednesday about the resumption of international talks over its disputed nuclear program, saying the location may not be Turkey — as previously agreed — and suggested Iraq and China as possible alternate hosts.
The statement by the foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, was made a little more than a week before the talks among Iran and the so-called P5-plus-1 countries — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, which are the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany — are to take place. A change of location on such short notice, especially for such a charged diplomatic negotiation, seemed to represent another complication.
Other Iranian officials quoted by the country’s state-run news media had expressed irritation in recent days about the choice of Turkey, apparently angry with the Turks’ stance on two other big issues: the antigovernment uprising in Syria and the proposed NATO missile shield. Turkey, a NATO member, is participating in the shield project, which is designed to thwart Iranian missiles.
One of the Iranian officials, Mohsen Rezaii, the secretary of the Expediency Council, an advisory group to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had suggested Syria as an option, which was bound to be rejected by at least the Western members of the P5-plus-1 group, who have called Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, unfit to rule.
Mr. Salehi, who publicly endorsed the choice of Turkey just a few weeks ago, is the most senior Iranian leader to suggest other locations.
“Baghdad and China have been discussed as venues for holding negotiations, and this issue has to be agreed by the sides,” Mr. Salehi was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.