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Updated: May 18, 2010 17:00 IST

Turkish foreign minister urges west to be “flexible” with Iran

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks to the media in Istanbul on Tuesday, a day after Iran agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal. Photo: AP.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks to the media in Istanbul on Tuesday, a day after Iran agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal. Photo: AP.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday urged western countries to be “flexible” with Iran and have more confidence in the country after it signed a deal with Turkey and Brazil to ship some of its uranium abroad.

The deal signed on Monday would allow Iran to send most of its low—enriched uranium to Turkey in return for fuel rods that would be used to run a research reactor in Tehran.

The deal, an offshoot of one offered in October by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is aimed at staving off looming United Nations sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear programme.

“This agreement is an important step for both regional and global peace,” Mr. Davutoglu said at a press conference in Istanbul.

Iran showed flexibility by signing the deal and the United States and other Western countries should show the “same flexibility,” the minister said.

“With Monday’s agreement, we have overcome a lack of confidence,” Mr. Davutoglu said.

Despite Monday’s agreement, sanctions against Iran were still very much on the table.

The United States and other Western governments along with the United Nations and European Union acknowledged the agreement was a positive development, but that it was likely not enough to prevent world powers from imposing UN Security Council sanctions.

“Our efforts for sanctions at the UN continue,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Monday, noting that the latest agreement would not slow the negotiations for a sanctions resolution.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters in Paris that the deal “does not settle the problem posed by Iran’s nuclear programme.” A spokeswoman for the European Union said the deal did not solve the “fundamental problem.” “Iran’s failure to engage seriously and provide reassurances about the programme and not respecting the resolutions that were adopted is the reason why we are still pursuing the sanctions resolution in the Security Council,” Maja Kocijancic said.

The Iranians still maintain they have a right to enrich uranium and that the international community should now reciprocate its gesture to send the material to Turkey.

“Iran has shown its goodwill, and now it’s the turn of the world powers to show theirs,” atomic chief Ali—Akbar Salehi said in Tehran.

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