AFP: Iran should be dealing “constructively” with the UN nuclear watchdog and leading world powers regarding its controversial nuclear program, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Iran should be dealing “constructively” with the UN nuclear watchdog and leading world powers regarding its controversial nuclear program, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.
“At this stage, the primary focus should be on Iran engaging constructively the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the P5+1,” Philip Crowley said when asked about Turkey’s mediating efforts in the matter.
The P5+1 refers to the six major powers negotiating with Iran: the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
Crowley said that was the message US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conveyed to her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in a telephone conversation earlier this week.
The spokesman said he believed the two top diplomats had “a mutual understanding” on who Iran should engage at this point, but stressed that Ankara and Tehran, as neighbors, were “within their rights” to continue their diplomatic contacts.
Davutoglu on Tuesday said nuclear talks with Iran could not take place without Turkey, when a reporter asked if it was true Clinton had told him to keep out of the issue.
Turkey, Brazil and Iran in May signed an nuclear fuel swap deal that was largely ignored by the international community and did not stop the UN Security Council from slapping new sanctions on Tehran on June 9.
European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said conditions were right for a resumption of nuclear talks with Iran later this year, in a letter addressed to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator that was published Wednesday.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ashton’s exchange with the Iranian official, “at this point of time, that’s the kind of conversation the international community should be having with Iran.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday in Lisbon that nuclear talks could resume “in the month of September,” but that Tehran also believed the 5+1 group should expand.
“There have to be changes in the structure of the 5+1 group. New countries must join this group,” Mottaki said without naming the countries he had in mind.
The last high-level talks between Iran and the P5+1 were held in Geneva in October 2009 when the two sides agreed a nuclear fuel swap that has since stalled.
Western powers have demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program, fearing that Tehran would use the material to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists that its atomic program is a peaceful drive to produce energy.