Russia sparks confusion over Iran nuclear talks
MOSCOW / TEHRAN
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) greets Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) upon the latter’s arrival in Tehran on March 29. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Iran nuclear talks will be in Istanbul on April 13-14.Russia said April 2 that the date and place for talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program had still not been set, despite a recent U.S. announcement on the first such meeting in more than a year.
“The date and the place of the meeting have not been definitively set. The meeting could take place on April 13 or 14 or in the following days,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency, adding that the talks should take place as soon as possible. “The situation is very complicated and could get worse. We can’t wait any more. These negotiations are extremely important.”
Ryabkov was reacting to a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 31 that talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group (U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) would take place on April 13 and 14 in Istanbul.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, asked whether Clinton had made the announcement prematurely, said that the P5+1 group had agreed on the time and place and that the onus was on Iran to accept the plan. “It’s been interesting to us that we are getting different signals out of Iran as to whether all of this is locked down,” Nuland told reporters in Washington. “But we are ready if they are ready at that date and venue.”
EU officials in Brussels said that, despite Clinton’s statement, Istanbul had not yet been fully confirmed as the venue. A senior Iranian political figure has also spoken out against Turkey hosting Iran’s next talks with world powers.
“Given the fact that our friends in Turkey have failed to fulfill some of our agreements, the talks ... had better be held in another friendly country like Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon,” said former presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie, Fars News reported. Speaking to staff at the Economic Cooperation Organization, Rezaie did not specify what Turkey’s failures were, but said that “offering Istanbul as the venue for the upcoming talks ... might give the wrong impression to the opposite side that Iran has grown weak and is in a weak condition.”