Despite Iran naming Turkey as the venue for multifaceted talks with the P5+1, the EU’s top diplomat says she wants “formal confirmation” on the location.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton claimed on Monday that she had received “informal confirmations” from Iran about the date and venue for the upcoming negotiations, “but I want a formal confirmation,” she added.
On October 14, Ashton expressed the West’s readiness to return to negotiations and proposed three-day talks with Iran in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Dialogue between Iran and the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany — which Ashton represents, has been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two sides met in Geneva.
Iran’s proposed date and venue for talks with the P5+1 were announced earlier this month in a letter sent by Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili to Ashton.
The EU foreign affairs chief accepted Iran’s proposed date for talks, but suggested Vienna or Switzerland as the venue for the first meeting, saying Turkey could be the venue for any follow-up meetings.
Despite Iran’s repeated declarations that talks with the P5+1 will not include the nuclear issue as the case has been “resolved”, Ashton said on Monday that Iran’s nuclear program is “the core of the agenda…I know what I’m going to discuss,” AFP reported.
Iran has stressed that it would 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.
During the first round of negotiations in Geneva, the Vienna Group offered to ship most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for reactor fuel from Russia and France.
The Western refusal to offer Tehran objective guarantees in the fuel swap proposal, led to Iran issuing a nuclear declaration with Turkey and Brazil on May 17 to ease Western concerns.
Under the declaration, Iran agreed to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel.
The US and its allies snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council to press for fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iranian officials have repeatedly refuted the nuclear accusations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, Tehran has the right to use peaceful nuclear technology.