Turkish prime minister in Iran, venue for nuclear talks unclear
Accompanying the Turkish prime minister during his visit to Tehran, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu (L) holds intense talks with his Iranian counterpart, Salehi. AA photoTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s readiness to host nuclear talks in Istanbul between Iran and the P5+1 countries, while the Iranian foreign minister said the date has been set as April 13.
“We had made a proposal to hold the nuclear meeting in Istanbul. The Iranian foreign minister had expressed a desire to hold the nuclear negotiations in Istanbul. We are waiting for the decision of the P5+1 [U.N. Security Council members plus Germany],” Erdoğan said at a press conference with Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi in Tehran.
“The date has been set as April 13, but the negotiations for the venue are still ongoing,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said. “Turkey has announced its readiness to host the talks, and my personal preference is Istanbul,” he added. The foreign minister said a “suggestion” from the P5+1 for a venue had been received and was being studied, and the location “will be announced soon.” The talks carry hopes of defusing a tense international showdown over Iran’s nuclear activities that has sent oil prices soaring.
Ahead of meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad where he will discuss Iran’s nuclear program and crisis in Syria, Erdoğan said there were positive developments regarding the nuclear talks at the nuclear summit in Seoul. “We wish to make a positive contribution to this process. Turkey is the third country that has been closely monitoring the process,” the prime minister said. Erdoğan also slammed the bellicose language directed against Iran, saying: “Military threats against a country that seeks to master peaceful nuclear technology are not acceptable.”
Before his Tehran visit, Erdoğan was in South Korea, where he took part in a nuclear security summit and held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama. There have been unconfirmed reports that Erdoğan is carrying a message to Iran from Obama. Obama warned in Seoul on March 26 at the start of the nuclear summit that “time is short” for a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran. “Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands,” he said.
The last round of Iran and P5+1 talks was held in Istanbul in January 2011 and ended in failure. The round before that, in late 2010, was in Geneva. Erdoğan, who was accompanied by several key ministers and intelligence and military officials is expected to meet with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei during his visit.
The U.N. has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for bomb. Also, the European Union as well as the U.S. and others have imposed an oil embargo as part of sanctions to pressure Tehran into resuming talks on the country’s nuclear program. They have also imposed tough banking sanctions aimed at limiting Iran’s ability to sell oil, which accounts for 80 percent of its foreign revenue. Meanwhile, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said Turkey complies with international law but has its own will to decide regarding trade with Iran.