Reuters: Crucial nuclear talks between the European Union and Iran were in doubt on Wednesday as the two sides were still wrangling over a date and venue amid a growing war of nerves over Tehran’s atomic ambitions. BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Crucial nuclear talks between the European Union and Iran were in doubt on Wednesday as the two sides were still wrangling over a date and venue amid a growing war of nerves over Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani had been tentatively expected to meet in Vienna on Wednesday but officials on both sides said no date and place had yet been agreed.
Solana and Larijani agreed by telephone last week to meet soon to discuss Iran’s response to an international offer of incentives for it to suspend uranium enrichment activities, a process which can lead to the atomic bomb.
“We are still fixing the date and place,” Solana spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said. “Our calendar is adaptable and obviously a Larijani meeting is a priority,” she said, adding she had never confirmed speculation about a Vienna meeting.
In Iran, an official from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council told Reuters that Larijani had not yet decided when or where the meeting with Solana would take place. Larijani is secretary of the Council.
The European Union agreed last week to allow two more weeks for diplomacy to clarify Iran’s stance after Tehran failed to meet the U.N. Security Council’s Aug. 31 deadline to halt sensitive nuclear work or face possible sanctions.
Senior officials of the five permanent U.N. Security Council powers, plus Germany and the EU, are due to meet on Thursday in Berlin to discuss possible sanctions after Iran’s defiance.
Diplomats say Solana had declined a request by Larijani for him to come to Iran for the talks. However, they said Solana did not rule out going to Iran for a subsequent meeting if there was the prospect of an agreement on suspending uranium enrichment.
The diplomats said haggling over the time and place of meetings was a frequent Iranian tactic to try to keep EU negotiators off balance.
In July, Larijani postponed a key meeting with Solana at the last minute, ostensibly because of irritation over an appearance by an exiled Iranian opposition politician at the European Parliament.