TEHRAN (Reuters) - Turkey has delivered a Western offer to Tehran to renew negotiations over its nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday, expressing hope talks stalled a year ago could soon be revived.
As new sanctions from the United States and the European Union added pressure on the Iranian economy, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran was also interested in returning to the negotiating table.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Salehi, Davutoglu said Salehi had “responded in kind” to “an expression of willingness by the West to resume negotiations” that he had brought.
“We are waiting for a good result coming out of the willingness of the two parties to go back to the negotiating table,” Davutoglu told the news conference, carried live on Iran’s Press TV with English translation.
“As far as negotiations over Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy programme, we hope that we will gain good results and the unfavorable conditions that have emerged, we hope that they will go away. On the international arena we hope that Iran will be able to have good ties.”
Salehi confirmed Iran was ready to return to talks with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (P5+1) at a time and place agreed by both sides.
He said the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who heads the P5+1 delegation, had suggested to Turkey that it host the talks and that Ankara had agreed.
“Personally I think that Turkey is the best place for the talks to take place,” Salehi said.
Istanbul was the venue of the last talks which ended in stalemate since when Iran has come under much tougher sanctions from the West which accuses it of seeking nuclear weapons capability. Tehran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it has a sovereign right to atomic technology.
Israel, which says a nuclear armed Iran would be a threat to its existence, has said it could launch pre-emptive strikes if diplomacy fails to stop Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran says it would close the Gulf to shipping if attacked, a potentially major blow to the world oil market.
Salehi insisted Iran would survive the latest sanctions, which could cut any bank around the world off from the U.S. financial system if it also does business with Iran and will also stop the EU buying Iranian crude.
“Iran, with divine assistance, has always been ready to counter such hostile actions and we are not concerned at all about the sanctions,” Salehi said.
“Just as we have weathered the storm in the last 32 years with the help of God and efforts that we make, we will be able to survive this as well.”
But in a further indication that Iran hoped to resume talks, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke by phone on Thursday at Tehran’s initiative, the Kremlin said.
According to a statement on the Kremlin’s website, Medvedev expressed satisfaction with Ahmadinejad’s “positive evaluation” of Russia’s “step-by-step” proposal to dispel concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.
Russia supported four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran in the late 2000s but expressed sharp opposition to further U.N. sanctions and criticized tougher EU and U.S. measures.
Additional reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow; writing by Robin Pomeroy; editing by Philippa Fletcher