Iran wants to see Turkey as host of nuclear negotiations
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) meets with senior Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his visit in Tehran. REUTERS photoIran’s foreign minister said yesterday he would like to see talks with world powers on his country’s nuclear program resume in Turkey but was waiting for a venue and date to be agreed upon.
“Personally I think that Turkey is the best place for the talks to take place. But it should be at a place of mutual agreement,” Ali Akbar Salehi said in a televised joint news conference with his counterpart Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Agence France-Presse reported.
Salehi said he had asked EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who was representing the world powers, to propose a time and place for the talks when the two met briefly recently in the German city of Bonn. Ashton’s office, however, has said it was still waiting for Iran to formally respond to an October 2011 letter Ashton sent offering to resume the talks, which were suspended a year ago.
Salehi brushed aside that demand, saying Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, “has said in the past couple of months that Iran is ready to resume talks.” He said Ashton asked Davutoğlu if Turkey could host the next meeting between Iran and the so-called “5+1 Group” comprising U.N. permanent Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus non-permanent member Germany, and that Davutoğlu had agreed. Iran’s position, Salehi said, “is a state of readiness to resume talks.”
Davutoğlu told the news conference he had conveyed Ashton’s request for a formal response from Iran. “We want to see both sides go back to the negotiating table,” he said. Davutoğlu also met with Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi earlier yesterday. Davutoğlu is also expected to be received by Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Anatolia news agency reported.
Davutoğlu and Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, discussed Turkey-Iran relations and regional issues as well as Iran’s nuclear energy activities in a meeting.
[HH] ‘Not concerned’ about EU bans
Meanwhile, Iran was “not concerned” about EU moves to ban Iranian oil imports and will survive them as it has other Western measures, Salehi said. “Iran has always been ready to counter such hostile actions, and we are not concerned at all about the sanctions,” al-Salehi said. “We have taken provisional measures. We have weathered the storm for the past 32 years, and we will be able to survive this as well,” al-Salehi said.
Diplomats in Brussels said Jan. 4 the 27-nation EU bloc has reached an “agreement in principle” to ban Iranian oil imports and was discussing the timing of when the measure would begin. The ban would add to other sanctions already imposed by the West, including a U.S. measure enacted last weekend that targets Iran’s central bank, which processes most of the Islamic republic’s oil sales.
The U.S. Jan. 4 hailed the EU move toward banning Iranian oil and said it wanted other countries around the world to follow suit. “We do believe that this is consistent with tightening the noose on Iran economically,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.