Iran says negotiations under way to hold new nuclear talks

ANKARA Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:12am EST

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Negotiations are under way to hold new talks between Western powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program and the most likely venue is Istanbul, but there is no date set, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday.

"Negotiations are going on about venue and date. We would like to have these negotiations," Salehi told reporters during a visit to Turkey, where he is expected to meet Turkish leaders.

Salehi also said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in touch with the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who heads the so-called P5+1 delegation, and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to try to arrange a date and venue.

"My personal view is to hold this in Turkey in Istanbul. Negotiations are still going on. My colleague Davutoglu is in touch with Lady Ashton and Jalili so that the date and venue is fixed. Most probably, I am not sure yet, the venue will be Istanbul. The day is not yet settled, but it be soon."

Istanbul was the venue of the last talks a year ago which ended in stalemate because participants could not even agree on an agenda. Iran has since come under much tougher sanctions from the West which accuses it of seeking nuclear weapons capability.

Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it has a sovereign right to atomic technology.

(Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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