The European Union foreign policy chief has accepted Iran’s proposed date for multifaceted talks, but suggests Vienna or Switzerland as the venue for the first meeting.
Iran’s proposed date and venue for talks with the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany — were announced on Tuesday in a letter sent by Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili to his counterpart Catherine Ashton.
“Catherine Ashton now looks forward to meeting Dr. Jalili… on December 5,” Reuters quoted Ashton’s spokesperson Darren Ennis as saying on Friday.
“For the first meeting, Catherine Ashton’s preference is that the first meeting takes place somewhere else in Europe and has proposed Austria or Switzerland.”
Jalili’s letter came after Ashton, who represents the P5+1, proposed on October 14 to hold three-day talks in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Iran, however, has announced that it will negotiate the issue of a nuclear fuel swap with the Vienna group — France, Russia, the US, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — within the framework of the Tehran declaration, and that its multifaceted talks with the P5+1 will not include the nuclear issue.
Iran signed a declaration with Turkey and Brazil on May 17 based on which Tehran agreed to exchange 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil with nuclear fuel.
The US and its allies, however, snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council to press for fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic over the allegation that Tehran might pursue a military nuclear program.
Iranian officials refute US allegations about its nuclear program, reiterating that Tehran has always been interested in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.