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Iran agrees to nuclear talks - if they are held in Turkey

Turkey has agreed to the proposal to host nuclear talks but other powers have yet to comment.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Image: Abolfazl Nesaei/AP/Press Association Images

IRAN HAS AGREED to resume talks about its nuclear programme with other world powers on the condition that meetings are held in neighbouring Turkey.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Tehran was considering 15 November as the starting date for discussions, according to semiofficial Iranian news agency Mehr.

However the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that no firm date has been set for the talks, Anatolia news agency reports.

Sanctions

The move has been seen as a result of tightening economic sanctions on Iran, imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union earlier this year. A further, fourth, set of sanctions was imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council last June.

Iran began talks with six other nations last year – the five permanent members of the Security Council; the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany (known as the P5+1). However discussions soon broke down over a proposed exchange of enriched uranium for fuel between Iran, Russia and France.

Iran agreed to the fuel-swap proposal – but with allies Turkey and Brazil instead – and P5+1 rejected this deal, saying that it would not provide the proof needed to assure them that Tehran did not have plans to develop a nuclear weapon.

Nuclear programme

Enriched uranium can be used to make fuel and material for warheads and, although Tehran has indicated a willingness to engage in talks, other powers point out that Iran has not stopped enrichment. However Iran, a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, insists that its nuclear programme is for peacful means only.

Iran began to load fuel into its first nuclear reactor at the Bushehr plant last August.

Mottaki is quoted in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News as urging the six nations to adopt a friendlier approach to Iran, adding: “In the past, we witnessed confrontation instead of a constructive” approach.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Turkish President Abdullah Gul said “As a result of more recent developments, you have also heard that Turkey will host the P5+1 meeting with Iran in Turkey and that is going to happen some time soon”.

Speaking at an event in Oxford, England, Gul added that Turkey had seen the consequences of war, both during the invasion of Iraq and the war in the Middle East in the 1990s, and said:

To have another war that involves a neighboring country is not an experience that we would like to live through again. For this reason we are trying to ensure that these problems can be resolved through diplomacy.

The Los Angeles Times reports that there has been no word from the US or other world powers about whether they had approved of the proposal. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had previously proposed Vienna, home to the IAEA, as the venue for talks.

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