AFP: Talks between world powers and Iran on its controversial nuclear programme should resume January 20 in Istanbul, an aide to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Friday.
BRUSSELS, January 7, 2011 (AFP) – Talks between world powers and Iran on its controversial nuclear programme should resume January 20 in Istanbul, an aide to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Friday.
“It’s a tentative date we’re looking at,” Ashton’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP. “We have positive feedback from Iran.”
A previous round of talks between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — spearheaded by Ashton, took place in Geneva on December 6-7.
That round followed a 14-month hiatus in the discussions.
The upcoming second round of talks in the Turkish city were expected to last one and half days, the spokeswoman added.
The West suspects Tehran is pursuing an atomic weapons programme under the guise of civilian nuclear work. Iran denies the charges and insists its activities have a purely peaceful purpose.
Tehran this week invited the EU to tour its nuclear sites, along with other nations.
But Brussels said it was up to UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out the visits.
Iran’s foreign ministry this week said invitations to visit Iran’s nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak had been sent to ambassadors of some of the nations represented in the IAEA.
Diplomatic sources at the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog said invites went out to Russia, China, Egypt and Cuba as well as to Hungary, as rotating EU president since January 1.
An EU official said Wednesday the bloc had not answered the letter and reiterated that the IAEA “are the people who have to inspect the Iranian nuclear facilities.”
IAEA sources said Britain, France, Germany and the United States were not on the list of countries invited to see the sites.
A senior Iranian official said in Damascus on Monday that the January talks could resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.
“We think (the negotiations), in line with the agenda decided in Geneva, could clear the way to resolving problems,” said Ali Bagheri, deputy to Said Jalili, Iran’s nuclear negotiator.
Iran’s nuclear programme has grown under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attracting four rounds of UN sanctions and other unilateral punitive measures from various countries, including the United States.
Ahmadinejad said in December that the Geneva talks were “very good”, adding “it is time that they (world powers) change the policy of confrontation to engagement.”
Analysts and diplomats said they failed to dissipate distrust between world powers and Iran, but marked the beginning of a new phase of dialogue.