Reuters: The European Union and Iran resumed talks over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions on Thursday as Washington warned time was running out for a deal to avert economic sanctions. By Louis Charbonneau
BERLIN, Sept 28 (Reuters) – The European Union and Iran resumed talks over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions on Thursday as Washington warned time was running out for a deal to avert economic sanctions.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani for more than five hours in Berlin on Wednesday for talks aimed at resolving the dispute.
“The only thing I can say is that talks were very intense,” Solana’s spokeswoman Christina Gallach said after the dinner meeting at a suburban lakeside villa broke off.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have offered Tehran economic and political incentives if it suspends uranium enrichment, which the West believes is part of a nuclear weapons programme.
Tehran says its nuclear enrichment activities are aimed at generating electricity and has so far refused to halt them.
The Washington Times reported this week that Iran was close to a deal that would include a temporary, 90-day suspension of uranium enrichment and clear the way for talks on incentives.
But Iran has dismissed the report as propaganda.
French officials said Larijani had offered to consider a temporary enrichment suspension at a meeting with Solana two weeks ago. Western diplomats had said details of this possible suspension would be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting in Berlin.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who spoke briefly with Solana immediately before Wednesday’s meeting with Larijani, played down prospects of a breakthrough.
“Obviously, if we can come out of this with an Iranian decision to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities, completely and verifiably, then we would be on course for negotiations and that is the course we would all like to pursue,” she told reporters in Washington.
Rice’s spokesman warned that they would not wait forever for the Islamic republic to agree to suspend enrichment work.
If Tehran does not suspend enrichment, the United States and the “EU3” — France, Germany and Britain — have agreed to ask the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. China and Russia oppose sanctions and would prefer to reopen negotiations.
The Security Council originally set an Aug. 31 deadline for Iran to halt enrichment which Tehran ignored. The six powers then agreed to give Solana until early October to reach a deal.