Reuters: France said on Sunday that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran had weeks rather than months to agree an agenda for talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme before world powers unite against Iran. By Francois Murphy
PARIS, Sept 24 (Reuters) – France said on Sunday that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran had weeks rather than months to agree an agenda for talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme before world powers unite against Iran.
Asked by LCI television how much time Solana had to reach such a deal with Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said: “In the coming weeks,” and added: “That is not months.”
Iran says it only wants to generate electricity but Western countries suspect it wants to build an atomic bomb under the cover of a civilian nuclear programme.
Douste-Blazy said Solana met Larijani a few days ago.
“Mr Solana considered that this discussion was constructive and for the first time the question of suspension was raised.”
A French Foreign Ministry spokesman, however, said there had been no new meeting and Douste-Blazy was referring to a meeting between Solana and Larijani in Vienna two weeks ago, which Solana described as “productive”.
“There has not been a new meeting,” the spokesman said.
The two men were due to meet again on Sept. 14 but their meeting was postponed. Neither the French Foreign Ministry nor Solana’s office were immediately available for comment.
French President Jacques Chirac said on Saturday he was optimistic a negotiated solution could be found to the standoff over Iran’s plans for nuclear development.
“We should do everything to find a solution via dialogue, which is always the best way to resolve problems,” he said.
“I am relatively optimistic, because it’s in my nature, on the result of the discussions that are taking place between the six and Iran.”
The United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany offered Iran a package of incentives in June aimed at persuading Tehran to abandon technology that could be used to make a nuclear weapon.
DIALOGUE SHOULD BE FAVOURED
Suspending uranium enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants or atomic weapons, is a precondition for talks on the package.
Major powers disagree on what sanctions would be imposed if Iran fails to halt enrichment as the U.N. Security Council has demanded. Iran has so far ignored an Aug. 31 U.N. Security Council deadline to suspend enrichment.
Douste-Blazy, however, said Washington and Paris agreed completely on how to deal with Iran.
“(There is) a total convergence of views on two current subjects: Lebanon and Iran,” he said.
He said dialogue with Tehran should be favoured until it was clear whether Iran would reject the offer presented to it.
“We must do everything to be sure that on the Iranian side it will be a ‘no’. If there is a ‘no’, I tell you today on this microphone, there will obviously be a new dynamic at the Security Council,” he said.
“We have warned the Iranians that they will be totally isolated from the international community but above all the Chinese, the Russians, the Americans, the Europeans will be together.”