EU FMs to discuss new two-track approach on Iran
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Brussels, May 12, IRNA
The European Union Council of Foreign Ministers is to discuss in Brussels Monday a new two-track approach to resolve the standoff over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
Track one consists of a new package of incentives to Tehran to move the process forward, EU diplomatic sources told IRNA in Brussels Friday.
"We want to give Iran another positive opportunity to get the negotiations moving by a series of incentives that will constitute a package to be presented to Iran in the near future," said the sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
In return, Iran has to halt enrichment-related activity.
Track two is the continued discussion in the UN Security Council on Iran's nuclear program.
The new European gesture comes after the US and EU failed earlier this week to move a resolution in the UN Security Council that could have eventually led to sanctions against Iran.
Asked if the package will be less or more attractive offered by the EU last year, the sources replied "notably more."
In August 2005, Iran rejected an EU package that included trade and economic incentives to resolve the nuclear issue as "unacceptable" and not up to Tehran's "minimum expectations."
The EU-3 foreign ministers (Germany, France and the UK) and EU High representative Javier Solana will report back to the EU Council on Monday how they see the situation, on how they see the way forward.
Foreign ministers from the UNSC's five permanent members plus Germany and Solana met in New York on Monday to discuss Iran's nuclear dossier.
Western efforts to press ahead with a tough UN Security Council resolution faced stiff resistance from two of the UNSC veto-holding permanent members, China and Russia.
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said in Washington on Wednesday after a meeting with Javier Solana that European countries would resume diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to change its position.
"We would wait for a couple of weeks, while the Europeans design an offer to the Iranians," said Rice.
Discussions on the new EU package are expected to continue during the next few days and no decision is expected on Monday.
However, EU Foreign Ministers are expected to issue a statement calling on Iran to suspend all enrichment-related activity.
"We want to see a diplomatic solution. We believe a diplomatic solution is possible," stressed another EU diplomat speaking to reporters in Brussels Friday.
"The message remains clear. If Iran does agree to return to suspension of uranium enrichment the door is open to deepen relationship and to work with Iran on the development of a proliferation-proof civil nuclear program," added the diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.
Analysts, however, believe it is highly unlikely that Iran will accept any pre-conditions like suspension of uranium enrichment.
Iran has always reiterated that its nuclear program is only for civilian purpose and the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog in repeated reports said it has found no evidence that Iran has diverted its nuclear program for military use.
The new diplomatic initiative has won international support.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters on Wednesday that "what is important here is that everybody seems to realize that we need to intensify diplomatic efforts and find a solution." Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in Amsterdam on Thursday he was pleased the UN Security Council was holding off from sanctions against Iran as Europeans work on the new package of incentives for Tehran.
Negotiation on the nuclear issue between the E3/EU and Iran began in December 2004, following conclusion of the Paris Agreement on 15 November 2004.
Talks between Iran and the EU trio broke off last August after Iran resumed uranium conversion activity which it had voluntarily suspended in 2004.
Last month, Iranian President Ahmadinejad declared that the Islamic Republic has joined the club of nuclear countries, after enrichment breakthrough.
The US and the EU expressed dismay saying Tehran was "moving in the wrong direction."
Replying to a question on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to US President George Bush, EU sources told reporters that there are all kinds of interesting issues in geo-politics that one could discuss with the President of Iran.
"But the point is that Iran unfortunately has lost the confidence of the West about its nuclear intentions," said the sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday that Western concerns over Tehran's nuclear program were "a big lie" since they themselves tested "new brands of weapons of destruction every day."
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