INTERNATIONAL

Iran-EU decide to continue interaction

Breaking new ground? Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (left) at the meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and U.S. Under-Secretary of State William Burn (right), on Saturday in Geneva.

Breaking new ground? Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (left) at the meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and U.S. Under-Secretary of State William Burn (right), on Saturday in Geneva.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: AFP

Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Iran and the foreign policy chief of the European Union, Javier Solana, have decided to continue their interaction after Tehran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council held talks to defuse tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme.

For the first time, a high ranking U.S. State department official, William Burns, participated in the face-to-face talks with the Iranians. Germany is also part of the dialogue Mr. Solana is leading. Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, is heading the Iranian delegation. The talks were held in the historic town hall in Geneva.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Jalili said the talks were “constructive and progressing.” Mr. Solana also said the discussions were “constructive,” but “still we didn’t get the answer to our questions. We hope very much we get the answer and we hope it will be done in a couple of weeks.”

At a meeting with the Iranians on June 14, Mr. Solana handed over a package of incentives which Tehran could avail itself of if it suspended enrichment of uranium.

Despite the Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, earlier describing the talks as a “positive” development, the two sides appeared to have followed a divergent approach to the dialogue. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr. Mottaki expressed the hope that the talks would lead to the emergence of a process, which would eventually yield tangible results. He said a framework for future negotiations could follow the dialogue.

The Iranians said they did not wish to discuss the nuclear issue in isolation. According to Iran’s Press TV, Tehran handed over a “package” to a number of international organisations and countries to resolve “a variety of political, economic and nuclear issues.”

Referring to the incentives proposed by Mr. Solana, the channel, quoting Iranian officials, said the “commonalities of the two packages” would be their focus during the dialogue.

Iran’s interlocutors have highlighted, in their public remarks, that they were seeking the suspension of uranium enrichment by Iran to achieve progress. However, in Geneva, the Iranian representative to the talks, Kevyan Imani, was quoted as saying that suspension of enrichment was ruled out. “Suspension, there is no chance for that,” he told journalists. Mr. Imani signalled that the “freeze for freeze” proposal, involving a six-week halt in advancing sanctions if Iran did not carry out additional enrichment for a similar period, was also not on the Iranian priority list. The talks were “not about freeze-freeze,” he observed.

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