Turkey mum as Istanbul to host Iran talks
TEHRAN / BRUSSELS
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (R) is seen with the EU’s foreign policy chief, Ashton, in Istanbul in this 2011 photo. AFP photoIranian media said yesterday talks aimed at resolving a nuclear standoff with the West would go ahead as planned in Istanbul later this week, but there was no official confirmation from Ankara or the other governments involved.
“After weeks of debates, Iran and the six world powers agreed to attend a first meeting in Istanbul,” semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing unnamed sources. State-run English language Press TV carried the same report, saying the talks were “slated for next week [April 13],” the day diplomats had expected them to happen.
“There is no confirmed information at the moment,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was on a visit to China. “We are waiting for an official statement,” a Foreign Ministry official who wants to remain anonymous told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. There was also no immediate comment from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia or China. Fars said the parties had also agreed to hold a second round of talks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad if they made progress in Turkey, Reuters reported.
Tensions between Turkey and Iran rose last week after a senior Iranian figure spoke out against Turkey hosting the nuclear talks following the meeting in Istanbul of the “Friends of Syria” group of countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials denied a media report claiming Erdoğan conveyed a message from U.S. President Barack Obama to the Iranian administration, a Turkish official told the Daily News. Erdoğan also had denied similar allegations previously, the official said. “In any case, claims about the content of the report are inconsistent.” The Israeli website DEBKAfile reported on April 7 that after meeting with Obama in Seoul on March 25, Erdoğan undertook to fly to Tehran and personally hand Obama’s six-point message to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.
Iran also rejected demands the West will reportedly submit at talks due to take place in days, saying it will neither close its Fordo nuclear bunker nor give up higher-level uranium enrichment. Those two demands, outlined by European and U.S. diplomats to The New York Times newspaper, were “irrational,” the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, told ISNA news agency in a lengthy interview, according to Agence France-Presse.