EU, China, Russia urged not to visit Iran - envoys
The European Union, Russia and China should reject Iran's invitation to visit its atomic sites this month just ahead of key talks, since that is a job for the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Western diplomats said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Several Western diplomats in New York, among them European officials, said on condition of anonymity that Moscow and Beijing were being actively discouraged from attending since it could undermine the united front of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany on Iran's nuclear issue.
"We would be disappointed if Russia, or China or the European Union were to go," said a senior Western diplomat in New York.
"Some may want to go," the diplomat added. "We certainly would not be encouraging people to go. Indeed we would be discouraging people from going."
Other diplomats confirmed that Moscow and China were being urged not to attend but said it was unclear whether Russian and Chinese delegates would go. Russia and China have reluctantly supported four rounds of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program but worked hard to water them down.
Other invitees included Brazil and Turkey, which voted against a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran in June. Countries like the United States, Britain, France and Japan, which voted for the sanctions, did not receive invitations.
The European Commission said it had yet to reply to the invitation sent to some ambassadors, including the EU's, accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, weeks before a second round of talks between Iran and six world powers on its disputed nuclear ambitions.
That second round of talks is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 21, Western diplomats in New York said.
A Dec. 27 letter from Iran's IAEA Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh to Hungary, which holds the rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU, invited the Hungarian IAEA envoy "to pay a visit to Iran's nuclear sites" on Jan. 15-16.
"Meeting with high-ranking officials during the visit to Iran is envisaged," said Soltanieh's letter, which was seen by Reuters. "The round-trip tickets, transportation, accommodation shall be arranged and paid for by my government."