Iran says ready for nuclear talks with world powers

ISTANBUL Thu May 16, 2013 6:24am EDT

1 of 2. Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili attends a news conference at the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul May 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Osman Orsal

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iran is prepared to pursue nuclear diplomacy with world powers before or after next month's presidential election in the Islamic Republic, its chief negotiator said on Thursday.

Saeed Jalili, who is also a candidate in the presidential race, was speaking after talks on the nuclear dispute with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"We are ready to continue our talks with the (six powers) whenever they are ready, before or after the presidential election in Iran... Talks will take place soon," Jalili told a news conference in Istanbul, without giving a date.

Jalili's meeting with Ashton, who oversees talks with Iran on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, followed a failed round of big power diplomacy in April, in the Kazakh city of Almaty.

Jalili also reiterated that Iran would never abandon its right to enrich uranium. Major powers want Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities to reassure the world that it is not seeking nuclear weapons. Iran denies having any such goal.

"Even after the elections in Iran, the people of Iran will not allow their right to enrichment to be taken away," he said, adding that international sanctions on Iran should be lifted.

Any movement in the decade-old standoff will now probably have to wait until after Iranians vote on June 14 for a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Jalili, who declared he would run on Saturday, is one of several conservative candidates known for loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who decides nuclear policy.

Other declared challengers include pragmatic former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, who is close to Ahmadinejad, the outgoing president.

The final list of candidates will only emerge around May 23 when Iran's Guardian Council completes its vetting process.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy and tough trade and energy sanctions fail to induce Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear work.

In the latest U.S. measure to try to choke off funding for the Iranian atomic program, the U.S. Treasury blacklisted an exchange house and a trading company based in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, saying they had dealt with Iranian banks that Washington has declared off limits.

Tehran says its nuclear activity has only peaceful purposes and that it is Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, that threatens peace and stability.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Justyna Pawlak and Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (6)
matthewslyman wrote:
“Jalili also reiterated that Iran would never abandon its right to enrich uranium.”
— Then what is there to talk about? This is the first thing that the international community is asking Iran to do, temporarily at least, in order to show their sincerity about negotiations to prove they’re not making a bomb (and furthermore, not going within an inch of making a bomb, as a sort of diplomatic threat to go further if they don’t get their way.)

“European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.”
— Who was a completely unknown entity in British, European or world politics until the Conservative Party spitefully opposed the Labour Party’s A-list candidates for any role in Europe… I worry that comparatively inexperienced politicians like Ashton might be drawn into time-wasting traps or strategic gambits with flattery from Iran’s tough, wily negotiators: “Agree to negotiations that cannot succeed, and you’ll get more personal attention on the world stage…”

“Iran is prepared to pursue nuclear diplomacy with world powers before or after next month’s presidential election”
— This is an election stunt, to buy time with the international community and make the Iranian people think Ahmadinejad is serious about dialing back on the tension; that he is serious about doing something to alleviate the economic hardship of the Iranian people. If so, why haven’t any substantive negotiations happened in the last 10 years? Nothing new is on the table here. Very disappointing…

May 16, 2013 6:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
bogwart wrote:
Iran has made this offer several times in the past. Always the US has either ignored it or reneged on any agreements made.

Tehran has made it abundantly clear that it is not pursuing the construction of a nuclear deterrent, and has fallen over backwards with assurances. Further, every entity that knows, from the US intelligence (sic) community to Mossad, has agreed with that assessment.

Iran is perfectly entitled to develop a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes. The sticking point is that the US is not truly interested in any deals, the policy is and has been for years regime change.

The stench of hypocrisy and betrayal underlies all pronouncements from the Washington regime.

May 16, 2013 7:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
lensmanb wrote:
Buying time.

May 16, 2013 7:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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