Secretary-General encouraged by 'slight shift' in Iran's position on nuclear talks

Iran Materials 14 September 2006 12:00 (UTC +04:00)

(UN News Centre) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for renewed efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, noting that he detected a "slight shift" in the country's position, reports Trend.

Iran now appeared to be softening its earlier refusal to suspend nuclear activities during the talks, Mr. Annan said, but he added that it was important for both sides to negotiate in good faith. "I do note there is a slight shift - I wouldn't say it's a major shift - a slight shift in the sense that they are now saying that, 'Let's negotiate.'"

He said it is a question of "focusing on the issue at hand and what it takes to settle it without artificial deadlines."

The Secretary-General held what he characterized as "very good and constructive" talks with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior officials last week in Tehran during an intensive diplomatic tour of the region.

Mr. Annan said that a significant degree of mistrust remained between both sides, posing a formidable obstacle to reaching any resolution.

"The West will tell you the Iranians have been stringing along the negotiations in order to continue with their enrichment," he said. "When you talk to the Iranians, they believe that they have been deceived. They were at the table for two years, were prepared to do all sorts of things, and nothing happened and suddenly they were before the G-8 and the Security Council."

The Council has threatened sanctions if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and take steps to assure the world that it is not developing nuclear arms.

The Secretary-General said that current discussions between the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, and Javier Solana, the High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy, appeared to be going well.