AP: Iran and the major powers seeking to halt its nuclear program resumed discussions almost immediately after Iran announced that it was releasing a British navy crew, an EU official said Thursday. Associated Press
By RAF CASERT
Associated Press Writer
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Iran and the major powers seeking to halt its nuclear program resumed discussions almost immediately after Iran announced that it was releasing a British navy crew, an EU official said Thursday.
Talks on the nuclear issue were put on hold during the standoff over the seized sailors and marines. But hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the crew’s release, top Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani spoke by telephone with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who negotiates on behalf of permanent U.N. Security Council members the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China, plus Germany, an EU official said.
“We hope we can get back to the negotiating table,” the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, adding that the crew’s release, “can only improve the context in which the nuclear file can be discussed.”
Solana and Larijani talked about both the seized crew members and the possibilities of progress on the international nuclear standoff, the official said.
The United Nations last month toughened sanctions on Iran over its failure to comply with the demand that it freeze enrichment of uranium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons as well as generate energy. Tehran has steadfastly denied it wants to produce weapons.
The 27 EU nations had planned to discuss Iran’s nuclear program during a special meeting over the weekend but were sidetracked by the seizure of the British crew.
The world powers insist that Tehran must freeze its enrichment work before any talks can begin on a package of economic and other incentives, including assistance for its nuclear power generation program.
Iran has announced a partial suspension of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, by revoking a pledge to inform it of any plans to build new nuclear facilities.