Tags: iran nuclear talks

Iran Seeks Framework in Talks, Not Breakthrough

Monday, 06 Dec 2010 07:01 AM

U.S. and European diplomats will seek to build a framework for future talks with Iran over its nuclear program as negotiators meet for the first time in a year.

Diplomats from the so-called P5+1 group, composed of China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., sat down with their Iranian counterparts at 9:30 a.m. on a rainy day in Geneva. Television trucks awaited their arrival outside the International Conference Center.

The goal of the talks today is to find a way for the P5+1 to build momentum for further negotiations, say past and present diplomats from countries participating. An immediate breakthrough isn’t likely, they say.

“The objective is to engage Iran into a phased approach to confidence building which should lead to meaningful negotiations,” Ruediger Luedeking, Germany’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Dec. 2 in Vienna on behalf of the European powers participating in the talks.

President Barack Obama called his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, yesterday to stress “the importance of P5+1 unity” at the talks, the White House said today in a statement. Iran’s deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Bagheri, met with Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last night in Geneva, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Diplomacy Essential

The two-day meeting is the latest chance to avert a clash with Iran, holder of the world’s No. 2 oil and natural gas reserves, over its nuclear program. The U.S. and European countries accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is designed to generate electricity for a growing population.

“This should be, has to be, resolved diplomatically,” U.S. IAEA Ambassador Glyn Davies said on Dec. 4 at a press briefing in Vienna. “It’s possible to reach an understanding eventually, but it’s going to take a long time.” Tensions have escalated since Iran accused U.S., Israeli and U.K. agents of murdering a nuclear scientist in a Nov. 29 bombing. The U.S. said it wasn’t involved while Israel and the U.K. declined to comment.

“It is far from assured that both sides will show flexibility to move beyond the initial stage,” Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran who consults with the London- based Chatham House policy-advisory group, said in a telephone interview. “The atmosphere doesn’t look very good.”

Security Concerns

Negotiators will need to split into groups to address the gulf separating the sides, Dalton said. The P5+1 group wants Iran to address concerns about the nuclear weapons allegations. Iran has sought to broaden the talks to include issues of regional security.

Iran wants to discuss a wide range of issues “related to international security and political and economic cooperation toward resolving global problems,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Dec. 4, according to the state-run Fars news agency.

The talks are the first since October 2009, when meetings included one-on-one discussions between Iran’s negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns. Jalili and Burns will each head their respective delegations at today’s meeting. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will lead the P5+1 delegation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Dec. 1 that his nation hopes for “serious” talks in Geneva and that Iran shouldn’t have to “compromise” its rights. UN sanctions have deprived the country of $60 billion in energy-related investment, according to U.S. estimates.

“There is still room for a renewed effort to break down mistrust and begin a careful, phased process of building confidence between Iran and the international community,” Burns told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a Dec. 1 hearing. Negotiators will “look for ways in which we could build confidence in steps.”

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U.S. and European diplomats will seek to build a framework for future talks with Iran over its nuclear program as negotiators meet for the first time in a year.
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2010-01-06
Monday, 06 Dec 2010 07:01 AM
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