Reuters: Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Thursday he would be alone at the next round of talks with the European Union’s top diplomat, Javier Solana, to discuss Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Thursday he would be alone at the next round of talks with the European Union’s top diplomat, Javier Solana, to discuss Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
Jalili replaced Ali Larijani as chief nuclear negotiator in October but both attended talks with Solana in Rome on October 23. After that round, Solana said the new negotiator was upstaged by Larijani and said “multiple players” could complicate talks.
Solana is representing six world powers in the discussions aimed at trying to end a nuclear row. The West accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
The next meeting with Solana is expected before the end of November.
When asked if Larijani would join him at the next round of discussions with Solana, Jalili told a news conference: “In the next round, I will be present alone in the talks, of course with my (other) colleagues.”
Larijani’s resignation exposed a rift with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about tactics in handling negotiations with the West over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, analysts said.
Critics say Ahmadinejad’s uncompromising stance and speeches railing against the West have provoked Western nations into pushing for more sanctions on Iran.
The choice of a close Ahmadinejad ally, Jalili, to replace Larijani was seen by analysts as signaling a hardening in Iran’s position in the nuclear row.
Larijani, a political rival of Ahmadinejad, told an Iranian newspaper in November he had resigned so that the president would “enjoy a free hand”.
However, the final say in all matters of policy in Iran lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the president.
(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian, writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Andrew Roche)