Iran Nuclear NewsIran hinting at nuclear talks soon - EU official

Iran hinting at nuclear talks soon – EU official


Reuters: There are signs Iran could reply in the next two months to a formal request for negotiations over its nuclear programme, a senior EU official said on Friday after talks among major world powers.

By Luke Baker
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – There are signs Iran could reply in the next two months to a formal request for negotiations over its nuclear programme, a senior EU official said on Friday after talks among major world powers.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said hints and suggestions, including from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, indicated that Iran could reply to a written request or propose talks of its own sometime in late August or September.
“We’ve had these indications from the Iranians talking about late August or early September,” the official told reporters.
“Sometimes it seems to suggest a reply to our request at that time, and sometimes it seems to suggest a meeting. We look forward to both a reply and a meeting.
“I hope it will come soon.”
The official was speaking after senior diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China met in Brussels to discuss progress on a fourth round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations against Iran last month.
The six countries, often referred to as the EU3+3, are hoping the sanctions will urge Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear programme, which the West says is designed to develop nuclear weapons but Iran says is for peaceful purposes.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, who joined the talks in Brussels on Friday, wrote to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili last month inviting him to resume negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Ashton, who wrote with the backing of the EU3+3, has not received a reply, but Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, did send a letter to EU foreign ministers this week, one sharply critical of extra EU sanctions on Iran.
Asked if the EU3+3 would be willing to hold talks with anyone other than Jalili if Iran offered, the EU official indicated Jalili was the only credible intermediary.
“Jalili is the correct address for the talks,” he said. “It appears to us that he speaks for the Iranian state.”
The official acknowledged that the new sanctions regime on Iran, which includes not only U.N. measures but extra U.S. and EU restrictions, was not going to work on its own to stop Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme.
“We don’t believe that sanctions are going to solve the problem on their own, but equally we don’t think that just doing nothing is going to solve the problem either,” he said.
“Sanctions are not an end in themselves. As far as we were concerned the motive for sanctions was because we had run out of other options, because the Iranians were no long talking to us.”
The objective now was to resume talking to Iran as soon as possible, he said.
“Our whole objective has been eventually to talk to Iran … What we want is a negotiated settlement and you don’t get that without talking to people.”

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