Iran on Monday confirmed that nuclear talks this week with world powers would take place in Istanbul, dropping reservations over that city as venue following a sharp-worded row with Turkey.
If the Istanbul negotiations with the P5+1 group — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany — on Saturday prove fruitful, another round of talks could be held in Baghdad, said the office of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in a statement.
The confirmation appeared to put an end to Iran's vacillation on Istanbul that cast a cloud of doubt over the talks in recent days.
Tehran had at first enthusiastically embraced the Turkish city as the ideal venue. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even went as far as to declare that city as the host of the talks.
But last week Iranian officials and politicians suddenly went cold on it, saying Turkey's support of the opposition in Syria — Iran's chief ally — excluded Istanbul as a venue. They proposed Baghdad instead, or possibly Damascus or Beijing.
That earned an unexpectedly strong protest from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had visited Tehran just days earlier to discuss the talks with Iran's leaders.
By Monday, Iran had again come around to accepting Istanbul as the venue.
In Brussels, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is representing the P5+1, said “we have agreed to launch talks in Istanbul on April 14”. — AFP
AP adds from Tehran:
Iran's nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi on Monday signalled that Tehran's envoys may bring a compromise offer: promising to eventually stop producing its most highly enriched uranium, while not totally abandoning its ability to make nuclear fuel.
Mr. Abbasi said Tehran could stop its production of 20 per cent enriched uranium needed for a research reactor, and continue enriching uranium to lower levels for power generation.
But the proposal may not go far enough to satisfy the West because it would leave the higher enriched uranium still in Tehran's hands rather than transferred outside the country.