Iran and the global powers are set to begin fresh talks, with south-west Asia in flux following uprisings in the Arab world and the death in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden.
Head of Iran's National Security Council Saeed Jalili wrote to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton accepting the invitation for talks. He asked the global powers to align themselves with the political transformation that the region has been experiencing. “What we witness today obviously proves that…the future management of the world would be based on the will of nations for their self-determination.”
Mr. Jalili said the “developments of the past few months” had established that Iran three years ago had correctly identified the underlying principles that have brought about these changes.
Iran had last held talks with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany in January in Istanbul.
The western powers have expressed anxiety about Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, which they fear can lead to Iran's emergence as an atomic weapon power.
But instead of narrowly focusing on its nuclear programme, Iran has been calling for a comprehensive, broad-based strategic dialogue with the West that recognises its regional stature. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Jalili has called for a “comprehensive and sustainable agreement,” which reflected Iran's “national, regional and international capacities”.
Analysts point out that by pursuing a multi-dimensional dialogue, Iran wants to be recognised by the West as a premium regional power —a de facto status that Saudi Arabia has so far enjoyed in the Persian Gulf area.
Iran has, on the nuclear issue, been working closely with Turkey, whose regional profile has significantly grown under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister. On Tuesday, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, a senior adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the next round of talks with the global powers, like the previous one, must also be held in Istanbul.
Calling for a “forward looking” process of negotiations, Mr. Jalili identified a wide-range of areas of global concern on which the dialogue with the West could proceed. “These talks could cover the most important regional topics such as combating the root cause of terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy in the high seas as well as enhancement of cooperation on energy supply and security,” he said.
Implying that it was a responsible stakeholder, the Iranian side identified nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and nuclear safety as possible items on the agenda of future talks.