Reuters: Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday he was meeting Iran’s new and outgoing nuclear negotiators in Germany at their request, demonstrating Tehran’s desire to continue talks in Europe. By Markus Krah
HAMBURG (Reuters) – Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday he was meeting Iran’s new and outgoing nuclear negotiators in Germany at their request, demonstrating Tehran’s desire to continue talks in Europe.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier was planning to meet outgoing nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and his successor Saeed Jalili in Hamburg where he is attending a key biennial congress of the centre-left Social Democratic party.
Steinmeier told reporters in Hamburg that the meeting was scheduled at the request of the Iranians.
“The Iranians have a desire to hold further talks in Europe,” Steinmeier said. “We’ll see if there’s any progress.”
Earlier this week the two men met European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Rome.
One German government official familiar with the Iranian nuclear issue said the most likely reason for the Iranian request to meet Steinmeier is that Germany is the least hawkish of the three European powers spearheading diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.
“We among the three are the most willing to listen to the Iranians,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Germany, Britain, France and the United States have persuaded a reluctant Russia and China to back two rounds of sanctions against Iran at the U.N. Security Council.
Washington, Britain and France have said they are ready now to impose a third round of U.N. sanctions on Iran but Russia and China are opposed. Germany, diplomats say, would rather wait.
Jalili replaced Larijani after his resignation was announced in a move analysts said could present the West with a harder line in its dispute over Tehran’s atomic ambitions. But Solana said after meeting them that Larijani appeared to be in charge.
The West accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program. Tehran says its program is aimed solely at generating electricity so it can export more of its plentiful oil and gas reserves.
(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Noah Barkin)