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Updated: December 7, 2010 22:01 IST

Iran optimistic on cooperation

Atul Aneja
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. File photo: AP.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. File photo: AP.

Iranian officials, at the end of the Geneva talks on Tuesday, expressed optimism that global powers may no longer impose pressure on Tehran and the next round of nuclear talks, scheduled in January in Istanbul, are likely to focus on cooperation.

Iran's Fars News Agency (FNA) quoted diplomatic sources as saying at the conclusion of the two-day dialogue with the six global powers that “talks for cooperation” and “finding common grounds for cooperation”, will now be on the agenda.

Analysts point out the Iranians have been firm that another set of sanctions will stall negotiations indefinitely. Writing on Monday in the Financial Times, Sadegh Kharrazi, Iran's former deputy Foreign Minister and a Tehran insider, stressed the U.S. and its allies must do away with their old “carrot-and-stick” approach. “Now new additional sanctions are threatened in the event of the current talks not bearing fruit, including another set of sanctions at the UN. This is unhelpful.”

On Tuesday, head of Iran's negotiating team Saeed Jalili warned Iran would pull out of future talks if sanctions and pressure were imposed. Mr. Jalili told his interlocutor, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, that “Iran would not accept any kind of talks under pressure and sanctions,” FNA reported.

Questions raised

According to FNA, Mr. Jalili elaborated on three questions he had raised in June in a letter to Ms. Ashton, including queries about acquisition of atomic weapons by Israel.

Separately on Tuesday, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Western powers needed to build trust for talks to make progress. “If you extend your hand sincerely to cooperate in various fields … Iranian people will rush to give you a hand … but if, once again, you come forward through deception and trickery without the recognition of the Iranian nation's rights … the response of the Iranian nation will be the same you have received so far,” he said . He called for the lifting of sanctions against Iran as a confidence building measure.

Ms. Ashton, speaking on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, said the talks had been “substantive”. “We recognise Iran's rights but insist it fulfils its obligations.” She said that at the Istanbul meeting “we plan to discuss practical ideas and ways of cooperating toward the resolution of our full concerns about the nuclear issue”.

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