Iran says nuclear talks could take place in Turkey

Iran announced on Sunday it has informed Ankara that Tehran is ready to hold talks in Turkey with major world powers concerned about its nuclear program, yet no date has been announced.The P5+1 group — the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany — had proposed holding talks with Iran over its nuclear program on Nov. 15-17 in Vienna, an approach welcomed by Iran but never formally agreed to. “Consultations are underway, they are on the right track. We are hopeful that the time and the agenda and content of the talks will soon be agreed upon by both parties and that both parties will start the talks as soon as possible,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said. He was speaking at a joint press conference with his Singaporean counterpart, George Yeo, in Tehran. As an alternative venue to Vienna, the home of the UN nuclear agency, Mottaki suggested neighbor Turkey. “We have told our Turkish friends that we are in agreement with regard to holding these talks in Turkey,” he said. Confirming that Iran has conveyed such a proposal, Turkish diplomatic sources said Ankara, in response, voiced willingness to host such a meeting. No date and exact venue has yet been set, the same sources, however, stressed, indicating that the Turkish capital first wants to see the reaction of the P5+1 to Iran’s proposal. Karim Bagheri, the deputy of Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, visited Turkey on Thursday and held talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu. Jalili informed European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the six world powers, in October that his country was prepared to resume nuclear talks after Nov. 10 at a time and place agreed by both sides, according to the state news agency IRNA. Last week, speaking to reporters about his meeting with Bagheri, Davuto?lu said Turkey has supported restart of negotiations “at once.” Having the negotiations start soon after Nov. 10 will be in the interest of everybody, Davuto?lu said at the time. On Sunday, an Iranian conservative newspaper, Vatan Emrouz, without quoting a source, reported that the negotiations would be held by the end of November in Turkey. The nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers have been deadlocked since October 2009 when the two sides met in Geneva. Iran has always insisted the talks be held on its package of proposals given to world powers before the October 2009 round of talks. That package talks of overall global nuclear disarmament. But world powers insist the talks focus on Iran’s nuclear program. Along with Brazil, Turkey brokered a nuclear fuel swap deal with Tehran on May 17 — an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to avoid the new sanctions on Iran agreed to by the Security Council in June. Both countries voted against the sanctions and have said diplomacy is needed to solve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear enrichment, which produces material that could be further processed for military use.

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