Iran Nuclear NewsSteinmeier holds 'constructive' talks with Iran

Steinmeier holds ‘constructive’ talks with Iran

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Reuters: Germany’s foreign minister held “constructive” talks with Iran’s nuclear negotiators on Thursday and urged them to cooperate with the international community to resolve a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme. By Markus Krah

HAMBURG (Reuters) – Germany’s foreign minister held “constructive” talks with Iran’s nuclear negotiators on Thursday and urged them to cooperate with the international community to resolve a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier met for two hours with outgoing nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and his successor Saeed Jalili in Hamburg, where he is attending a congress of his Social Democratic party, a delegate to the talks said.

“Minister Steinmeier appealed to Iran to seek to cooperate with the European Union’s foreign policy chief (Javier) Solana and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director (Mohamed) ElBaradei,” the delegate said.

The talks were “constructive and conducted in an open atmosphere. Steinmeier reiterated the position of the U.N. Security Council and Germany”.

Steinmeier said earlier the meeting was scheduled at the request of the Iranians, which was seen as a demonstration of Tehran’s desire to continue talks in Europe.

“The Iranians have a desire to hold further talks in Europe,” Steinmeier said. “We’ll see if there’s any progress.”

Earlier this week the two men met European Union foreign policy chief Solana in Rome.

One German government official said the most likely reason for the Iranian request to meet Steinmeier was that Germany is the least hawkish of the three European powers spearheading diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme.

“We among the three are the most willing to listen to the Iranians,” the official said.

Germany, Britain, France and the United States have persuaded a reluctant Russia and China to back two rounds of sanctions against Iran at the U.N. Security Council.

The United States, Britain and France have said they are ready to impose a third round of U.N. sanctions on Iran but Russia and China are opposed. Germany would rather wait.

Jalili replaced Larijani after his resignation was announced in a move analysts said could present the West with a harder line in its dispute over Tehran’s atomic ambitions. But Solana said after meeting them that Larijani appeared to be in charge.

The West accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy programme. Tehran says it only wants to generate electricity.

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Noah Barkin)

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