Moscow mediates to break deadlock in Iran nuke talks

Moscow mediates to break deadlock in Iran nuke talks

Moscow mediates to break deadlock in Iran nuke talks

EU foreign policy chief Ashton (1st from L) and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Jalili (1st from R) meet in Moscow. AP photo

A top Russian official made a last-ditch effort to save talks over Iran’s nuclear program from collapse yesterday, holding a meeting with Iran’s chief envoy. But diplomats said the negotiations remained deadlocked as they went into a second and possibly final day, with the presidents of the United States and Russia urging Iran to agree to curb nuclear activities that could be turned toward arming warheads and Iran demanding a lifting of sanctions crippling its oil industry.

Russia stepped into its role of trying to mediate between Iran and Western nations. Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and head of the presidential security council, met ahead of yesterday’s session with top Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili, said one of the diplomats. That followed a Monday meeting between Jalili and Nikolai Patrushev, former head of Russia’s counterintelligence agency. The diplomat, like others who spoke to reporters, demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the closed talks.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin jointly urged Iran to show flexibility at the Moscow talks ahead of Tuesday’s session.

‘Pretty tough’ talks

“We agree that Iran must undertake serious efforts aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” they said on the sidelines of the meeting of G-20 nations in Mexico. But Iran said the onus was on its six negotiating partners - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - to make the first move and agree to Tehran’s demands. A member of the Iranian delegation, who demanded anonymity because he was not the official spokesman for his side, said if the six accept Iran’s conditions “there will be a big progress in a short period of time. “But if they pursue the path they’ve been following, any progress in the talks will be stalled,” he told the Associated Press. The talks are being hosted by the EU’s top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton. Her spokesman, Michael Mann, spoke of “pretty tough” going.