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Turkey, Brazil urge Iran to be flexible at nuclear talks

July 26th, 2010

Brazil's Celso Amorim and Turkey's Ahmet Davutoglu, together with Iran's Manouchehr Mottaki

Turkey and Brazil‘s foreign ministers urged Iran on Sunday to be flexible and transparent in dealings with the West over its nuclear programme as they held talks with their Iranian counterpart.

Sunday’s talks were the first of their kind since Iran was slapped in June with new UN sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme, some two weeks after it struck a fuel swap deal with Brazil and Turkey.

Turkey’s Ahmet Davutoglu and Brazil’s Celso Amorim came together with Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki at a luncheon in Istanbul after holding bilateral talks, Turkish and Brazilian diplomats said.

The meeting was arranged at Mottaki’s request. It was not clear whether there would be a statement afterwards.

The meeting aims to prepare the ground for reviving talks between Iran and the P5+1 group– Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — and to discuss ways of moving forward a May deal for Iran to send some of its uranium stockpiles abroad in return for nuclear fuel, Davutoglu said.

“What we told the parties right from the start is for these negotiations to take place at once and for the parties to discuss all issues in the most transparent and open manner,” he told a joint press conference with Amorim before the three-way talks.

Hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered a freeze on the talks with world powers concerning its overall nuclear programme until the end of August after his country was slapped with fresh UN sanctions

Last week, Mottaki and European Union’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the P5+1 group, said the talks could resume in September.

Turkey has offered to host the talks between Ashton and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Turkey and Brazil also called for a swift start to negotiations between Iran, the UN atomic watchdog and the so-called Vienna group — Russia, France and the United States — on the nuclear fuel swap deal signed in May.

“Now there is a proposal for a technical meeting. We have always encouraged Iran to take a flexible position and to go to this meeting,” Amorim said.

“We want to preserve Iran’s right for a peaceful nuclear programme, but at the same time give guarantees to the world in general that this programme has no military implications,” he added.

Under the May 17 deal, Iran agreed to send 1,200 kilogrammes of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey to be supplied at a later date with high-enriched uranium by Russia and France.

But it was immediately cold-shouldered by world powers, which backed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran on June 9 over its refusal to halt its sensitive uranium enrichment programme.

The deal was a counter-proposal by Iran to an October plan drafted by the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with the Vienna group in a bid to keep Tehran’s uranium stockpiles in check.

That plan became deadlocked, with each group insisting on conditions unacceptable to the other.

The group raised several questions regarding the swap deal, and Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday that Tehran had prepared its response and would deliver it “in the next two or three days”.

Salehi was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying that Iran’s “technical response to their questions will be discussed probably in a meeting with the Vienna group.” He did not specify when such a meeting might take place.

The latest UN sanctions were followed by unilateral punitive measures from Washington, and the European Union will on Monday impose punitive measures targeting Iran’s energy sector.

Ahmadinejad warned the 27-nation bloc on Sunday that his country would react to the measures swiftly and cause “remorse”.

Western powers have demanded that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, fearing Tehran would use the material to make a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its atomic programme is peaceful.


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