Reuters: Turkey expects to host talks between Iran and six major powers on Tehran’s nuclear programme “some time soon,” President Abdullah Gul said on Monday.
By Anna Yukhananov
OXFORD, England (Reuters) – Turkey expects to host talks between Iran and six major powers on Tehran’s nuclear programme “some time soon,” President Abdullah Gul said on Monday.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday Iran was ready to hold talks with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany (known as the P5+1) and that Turkey might be the best venue.
“As a result of more recent developments, you have also heard that Turkey will host the P5+1 meeting with Iran in Turkey and that is going to happen some time soon,” Gul said at an event in Oxford, England.
Largely Muslim Turkey is a NATO member and candidate for European Union membership. It has developed closer commercial and political relations with neighbor Iran in the last few years.
Gul, speaking through an interpreter, said Turkey believed talks were important confidence-building measures and steps toward a diplomatic solution.”
Many countries are concerned Iran is using a civilian nuclear programme to conceal development of nuclear weapons, something the Islamic Republic denies. Tehran says it seeks nuclear energy only for generation of electricity.
The failure of talks between Iran and the major powers a year ago led to a tightening of international sanctions against Tehran.
The eight-year-old stand-off has the potential to ignite a regional arms race.
Israel and its main ally, the United States, do not rule out a pre-emptive strike to stop Iran getting the bomb.
Gul said Turkey had seen the consequences of war in the Middle East during the 1990s and during the war in Iraq.
“To have another war that involves a neighboring country is not an experience that we would like to live through again. For this reason we are trying to ensure that these problems can be resolved through diplomacy,” he said, at an event hosted by the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies.
The “P5+1” — the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — has offered talks on November 15-17 in Vienna, an approach welcomed by Iran but not formally agreed to.
Iran has sent mixed signals over a resumption of talks.
A senior aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that even if Iran did agree to the talks it would not negotiate about its nuclear programme.
(Writing by Adrian Croft; Editing by Ralph Boulton)