Iran Nuclear Talks Likely in Turkey, says EU Foreign Policy Chief
By Jessica Desvarieux
15 September 2009
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says talks concerning Iran's nuclear program are likely to be held in Turkey.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told a group of reporters that talks between world powers and Iran will "very likely" be held October 1 in Turkey.
Turkey is seen as an ideal host, says co-executive director of the British-American Information Security Council Paul Ingram because not only is it a member of NATO, but it has economic and energy ties to Iran.
"Turkey is very keen to play a mediating role between the West and Iran," he said. "I think it is keen to be seen to be player. It is probably a good thing that the West has chosen to take Turkey up on its offer to play this sort of role."
In the past, Solana has led negotiations between Iran and Western global powers. He represents six powers, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and now the United States.
The United States has not had official diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980. But U.S. President Barack Obama called for Iran to discuss its disputed nuclear program with world powers by the end of September, and Iran has welcomed talks.
But Iranian President Ahmadinejad says he will not discuss Iran's right to have a nuclear program. The Islamic Republic insists its nuclear activities are for the generation of electricity.
Ingram says disputes over Iran's nuclear sovereignty should not dissuade hopes of progress between the two sides.
"The fact that Iran resisted direct talk over its nuclear program is to be regretted but nevertheless I think the timing is good," he said. "I think it is very positive that Iran is engaging in talks and that the West is treating seriously this desire for Iran to talk about these global moves. "
Solana says the West's policy will be to offer Iran incentives to abandon a nuclear-weapons program, while maintaining its stance on further sanctions if Iran does not clarify specifics related to its nuclear program.
Mr. Ahmadinejad brushed off the threat of U.N. sanctions, particularly on petrol imports. Although oil-rich Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil exporter, it does not have the refining capabilities to meet its domestic demand.
In order to move away from the threat of sanctions, Ingram advises the Obama administration to use this meeting as an opportunity to build a partnership with Iran.
"I think these talk have an opportunity to convince the Iranians that they are partners in a global effort to handle these technologies rather than the strategy the West has adopted up to now, which is to see Iran as a unique example of a country that needs to suffer particular controls that other countries do not," he said.
The October talks will follow the September 24 U.N. Security Council meeting on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament that will be chaired for the first time by a U.S president.
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