Reuters: Iran said on Wednesday crucial talks between the European Union and Iran on incentives aimed at ending a nuclear stand-off have been postponed for a week, giving no immediate official reason for the delay. By Parisa Hafezi
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Iran said on Wednesday crucial talks between the European Union and Iran on incentives aimed at ending a nuclear stand-off have been postponed for a week, giving no immediate official reason for the delay.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the meeting between Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana would not take place as planned in Brussels.
“No negotiations will take place today between Larijani and Solana,” Mottaki was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency.
A senior Iranian nuclear official who requested anonymity told Reuters that the meeting had been postponed until next week while Iran’s Fars news agency reported the trip was canceled “for some reasons” and could be rescheduled in coming days.
Solana’s office could not immediately confirm when the meeting, set by Western powers as a deadline for Iran’s response, would take place.
Solana spoke by telephone with Larijani on Wednesday and would issue a statement later, an EU official said.
Iran had said it needs more time to reply to the incentives offer, adding to longstanding Western suspicions that it has been playing for time in the stand-off.
But an analyst in Tehran said a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the same day by the leader of the outlawed National Council of Resistance of Iran, regarded by the government as a terrorist group, appeared to be the reason.
Maryam Rajavi, who is based in France and whose organization is the political wing of the outlawed People’s Mujahideen armed group, was invited to the legislature by a cross-party group of EU lawmakers who call themselves “Friends of a Free Iran.”
“One might think that this didn’t please the Iranians, but it could also be a welcome pretext for the Iranians,” the analyst said, who asked not to be identified.
Rajavi held a news conference at the EU legislature in the eastern French city but canceled plans to meet parliamentary groups in what she said was a move to avoid giving the Iranian authorities an excuse to stop the nuclear talks.
“I wish to remove any pretext that the mullahs might have and I wish to make negotiations possible for the international community, and that is why I have asked that the meetings be deferred,” she told journalists.
Diplomats said divisions in the U.N. Security Council over what action to take on Iran meant there had been little chance of Tehran responding either at the Brussels meeting or before a July 15 summit of G8 leading industrialized nations in Russia.
The United States has accused Iran of having a secret program to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is solely for power generation.
Iran says it sees ambiguities in the June 6 offer by Germany and the five permanent, veto-wielding U.N. Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
The major powers offered a state-of-the-art nuclear reactor with a guaranteed fuel supply, economic benefits and support for the idea of a regional security framework if Iran halted uranium enrichment.
Diplomats believe that as Russia and China were unlikely to back any U.N. sanctions against Iran at this stage, the West was in no position to set deadlines.