AFP: Sanctions may not have closed the door for talks over Iran’s nuclear programme, but the ball is now in Tehran’s court to allay international fears, Brazil’s foreign minister said here Wednesday.
SOFIA (AFP) — Sanctions may not have closed the door for talks over Iran’s nuclear programme, but the ball is now in Tehran’s court to allay international fears, Brazil’s foreign minister said here Wednesday.
During a two-day visit to Sofia, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said he was aware that “there were concerns expressed by the Vienna Group” — the United States, France and Russia — over a May 17 fuel swap deal between Iran, Brazil and Turkey.
“I think now it is up to Iran to react to these,” he told journalists.
Iran’s tripartite deal to exchange 1,200 kilogrammes (2,640 pounds) of its low-enriched uranium for higher grade fuel was cold-shouldered by world powers with the UN, EU and US slapping new sets of sanctions on Tehran.
“My frank opinion is that sanctions do not help. But I am encouraged by the fact that Iran has had so far a rather flexible response,” Amorim added.
In Tehran, a foreign ministry statement said that the three parties had decided to meet soon for talks.
Following a telephone call on Wednesday from Amorim to his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, it was “decided to examine at a meeting soon… the follow-up to the Tehran agreement,” the statement said.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov meanwhile noted that “it is most important at the moment not to take the decision by the UN Security Council for additional sanctions as closing the door for negotiations and talks with Iran.”
“I hope the Iranian authorities will be ready to sit at the table for an open dialogue on all issues concerning their nuclear programme with the Vienna Group and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to find a solution to this situation,” he added.
“I agree that maybe the sanctions do not close the door (to talks), I hope that this is the case. But I think that the rush to sanctions was a bit disappointing from our point of view,” Amorim said.
He appeared encouraged that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was willing to continue negotiations with Iran, based on the Brazil and Turkey proposal, and he praised the “positive mood” in Iran’s general response to that proposal.
“I think this is a good development.”
Amorim added: “We have felt especially on the part of one of the members of the so-called Vienna Group, the willingness and the desire to have a continued engagement by Turkey and Brazil.”
“And if this is also the desire of Iran, which I think it is, but also of the other two (Vienna Group members) we will be more than glad to help,” he said.