EU's Ashton: Iran nuclear talks could resume soon
Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 22 /Trend/
E3+3 countries are willing to meet with Iran within weeks if it is prepared to "engage seriously in meaningful discussions" and address concerns about its nuclear program, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told Tehran in a letter on Friday, Reuters reported.
In a response to a proposal of new talks sent by Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili last time, Ashton made clear her position that there must be no repeat of the last round of talks, which took place in January in Istanbul and ended with no progress.
If Iran is ready to discuss concrete confidence-building measures without pre-conditions, "we would be willing to agree on a next meeting within the coming weeks at a mutually convenient venue," Ashton said.
"I welcome your suggestion to resume talks, in order to take fundamental steps for sustainable co-operation," she said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
"When moving to continuation of our talks, it is crucial to look for concrete results and not to repeat the experience of Istanbul," Ashton said. "We have to ensure that when we meet again we can make real progress on the nuclear issue."
She said the goal "remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear program.
"In order to start such a process, our initial objective is to engage in a confidence-building exercise aimed at facilitating a constructive dialogue on the basis of reciprocity and a step-by-step approach," the letter added.
In mid-September, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Saeed Jalili sent the letter to Ashton with a proposal to begin new talks on Iran's nuclear program.
The last round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program took place in January 2011 in Istanbul.
Ashton, who represented at the talks the "six" (five permanent Security Council members - Britain, China, Russia, USA, France plus Germany), stressed the talks ended without result.
Ashton said that Iranian officials made "unrealistic" demands in the negotiations - lifting of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic and the agreement under which Iran would continue its research in the field of nuclear energy.
The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.
The United Nations has imposed four rounds of Security Council sanctions over Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for an atomic bomb.
Edited by T.Konyayeva.