11232014Sun

EU, Iran envoys discuss nuclear talks date, possibly in January

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A new round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers could still happen in January, diplomats said on Tuesday after planning discussions between senior negotiators from the Islamic Republic and the European Union.

Western diplomats had hoped for negotiations - last held in June - to resume in December or mid-January in the face of increasing concern that the decade-long standoff could trigger a new war in the Middle East. But Iran did not respond to proposed dates in time, Western diplomats said.

Russia voiced alarm last week at delays in agreeing a new round of talks on Iran's atomic work, which the West suspects is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium for solely peaceful energy purposes.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton oversees contacts on behalf of the six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

On Monday, senior EU negotiator Helga Schmid spoke with Iranian counterpart Ali Bagheri on the phone over when new talks might take place, a spokeswoman for Ashton said on Tuesday.

"Consultations to prepare a next round of talks are ongoing," Maja Kocijancic said. She did not give details of the talks or of possible dates.

Diplomats said negotiators were still hoping to resume talks in the coming weeks.

"The powers and Iran are still discussing possible dates for nuclear talks in January," one Western envoy said.

The six powers have used a mix of diplomacy and economic sanctions to try to persuade Tehran to scale back its nuclear work. However, three rounds of negotiations last year produced no breakthrough, with Iran demanding sanctions relief and international recognition of its right to enrich uranium.

A former Iranian nuclear negotiator has said Iran is ready to meet again "as soon as possible", but suggested that uncertainty in Tehran about what the other side would offer may make it reluctant to agree a new date now.

Some diplomats suggest Tehran may want to wait until after its meeting on Wednesday with the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency in Tehran - to discuss how to remove obstacles to an IAEA inquiry into alleged atomic bomb research by the Iranians - before setting a date for the talks with the powers.

The talks between the IAEA and Iran are separate from, but linked to, broader diplomacy by the six powers to resolve the dispute with Iran before it degenerates into war, feared because of Israeli threats to bomb Iranian nuclear sites.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Sebastian Moffett and Mark Heinrich)

Search

Act of Cowardice

Iran's ruling tyrants have executed yet another political prisoner in flagrant violation of international law.  READ MORE

The rush to Tehran amidst rise in executions

World leaders should halt these visits and link any deal with Iran to its human rights record.  READ MORE

Arming a dictator

What if President Obama ordered the sale of arms to Syrian dictator to massacre his opponents? READ MORE

Slaughter intensifies under Rouhani

231 executions have occurred since the presidential election in June which brought to power Hassan Rouhani. READ MORE

Silence is not the answer

Iran: Bloody crackdown targeting dissidents aims at terrorizing the people into submission. READ MORE

Iran’s Murder Machine

The wheels of Iran's Murder Machine turn in tandem with its nuclear machine. READ MORE

What now?

The West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the winning strategy. READ MORE

A facelift

This cosmetic facelift should not dupe the West into thinking that there are fresh prospects for a nuclear deal. READ MORE

An Act of Cowardice

The terrorist attack against Iranian exiles at Camp Liberty, Iraq, is another sign of Iranian regime's weakness. READ MORE

Much atalk about nothing

In Istanbul they merely agreed to talk about talking later in May in Baghdad, of all places. READ MORE

An unholy alliance

The brutal state-imposed bloodbath in Syria deserves uncompromising reproach. READ MORE

Iran cries for freedom

The clerical regime in Iran has predictably unleashed another wave of terror against the citizenry since the outburst of the latest string of mass protests beginning on 14 February. READ MORE

A new Iran policy

The latest round of nuclear talks had an all-too-familiar result: more time for Tehran and less time for the international community to prevent a nuclear-armed theocracy. READ MORE

Murder overlooked

What would the rest of us do if a mad gunman was in our midst, systematically murdering our fellow human beings in front of our eyes? The responsible amongst us would not look the other way, because that would serve as a source of encouragement for the murderers to carry on with their heinous acts unchecked. READ MORE

Standing up to Iran's executioners

The Iranian regime's malicious noose has yet again taken an innocent life. Political prisoner Ali Saremi, 63, was hanged in Tehran's infamous Evin prison after a lifetime of peacefully espousing human rights and democracy. READ MORE