Revival of Iran nuclear talks in question ahead of Istanbul meeting
Iran expressed hopes that a meeting with the European Union in Istanbul on Tuesday would lead to further talks on its nuclear programme, but EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was much more guarded, reported dpa.
The meeting between Ashton and chief Iranian negotiator Saeid Jalili in the evening was overshadowed by Iranian allegations that its nuclear facilities have been sabotaged.
A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that his country hopes there will be a further round of talks after Tuesday evening's session.
But Iran will continue to insist upon its right to pursue peaceful civilian nuclear activities and call on the international community to lift sanctions upon it, said spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.
Ashton is the chief negotiator representing the so-called 5+1 group - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The group has expressed worries that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.
Her spokesperson did not refer to any prospect for further talks in a statement on Monday, but stressed that Ashton would "stress once again to Iran the need for an urgent and meaningful confidence building step."
The six powers want Iran to halt uranium enrichment, in return for cooperation on nuclear and aviation technology, but previous rounds of talks this year have ended without a breakthrough.
In Vienna, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Tuesday that he told the head of Iran's nuclear programme, Fereydoun Abbasi, that Iran should allow an investigation of possible nuclear weapons projects as soon as possible.
"I sincerely hope we will be able to move swiftly towards concrete progress," Amano said after meeting Abbasi the previous day in Vienna.
Abbasi charged Tuesday that the IAEA was possibly infiltrated by terrorists and saboteurs, linking the agency and unnamed foreign countries to explosions that have cut power lines to two uranium enrichment plants.
Negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme have continued on-and-off for years. Israel has recently threatened military action if it feels Iran is getting too close to a nuclear bomb.