Ankara Steps in for Iran

(zaman.com) - Turkey is stepping in once again in efforts to overcome Iran's nuclear crisis.

Parallel to the US' conditional "proposal for direct talks" and the meeting in Vienna held by UN Security Council's five permanent members, Ankara launched intensive efforts to contribute to "solving the problem by diplomatic ways."

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, after speaking with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice twice in the past 24 hours with, suggested to his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, "Do not say 'no' immediately, take advantage of the opportunity in the best way."

Ankara, hopeful that the problem may be solved without the use of military force, also warned Tehran that the US may request the UN Security Council pass heavy sanctions against Iran in the event they refuse to negotiate, reports Trend.

Guls conference call with Rice and Mottaki was held prior to and immediately following the meeting in Vienna. Before Rice announced her proposal for direct talks with Iran, Gul provided detailed information on this issue. At the same time the Turkish FM also handled the issue in Ankara with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Rice called Gul once again after the meeting, and the Iranian Foreign Minister also spoke with Gul by phone.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, coming to Ankara via Vienna for an official state visit, gave Gul detailed information about the package, the contents of which are being kept confidential for the moment.

"It is now time to act in a cool-headed way. There are new opportunities," Gul said after concluding these contacts, adding that a diplomatic solution can be found for the problem.

Ankara assessed the US' latest opening as "Iran and the West use different rhetoric in their statements and approaches. The US, with its opening, gives the appearance that it is doing all it can for Iran. This opportunity should not be missed. However, if no solution is reached after this opening, the US may resort to different methods with the UN Security Council. The next steps should be carefully considered in this frame."

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier speaking on the issue in Ankara said he thinks the proposal will be seriously considered by Iran.

Rice Urges Prompt Response from Iran

Following the United Nations (UN) Security Councils permanent members and Germanys agreement on the international package of rewards designed to encourage Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, Tehran is expected to respond.

US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice said Tehran is on the edge of an inevitable decision and added "It really needs to be within weeks."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said "Tehran will not face a deadline to respond to the six nation proposal." Lavrov also noted that the package does not include the use of a military force. The package, which includes alternative formulas for Iran for its nuclear fuel demands, commercial privileges like World Trade Organization membership and security guarantees, has a meaning of "continue" or "quit" for Iran.

If Tehran accepts the rewards package the process in the UN Security Council will be suspended. If it rejects this, the process entailing economic sanctions will continue. Iranian Atomic Energy Agency Vice President Mohammed Saidi offered the only response from Iran yesterday, saying they will continue to enrich uranium.

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