Friday, October 22, 2010

EU Re-Invites Iran for Nuclear Talks

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton today urged Iran to accept her proposal for the resumption of negotiations between Iran and P5+1. Last week, Ashton and her office had proposed the dates of 15-17 November for three days of talks to be held in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program.

Last Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki had welcomed Ashton’s invitation, calling it a positive move from his country’s perspective. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili had also welcomed the return to negotiations. But Iran never officially accepted the invitation, and in the past few days there have been an official silence in Tehran over the issue. Ashton’s re-invitation came in a form of letter sent to Iran’s ambassador to EU.

"The main focus of the meeting would be on the question of the Iranian nuclear program, not excluding any other items pertinent to the discussion," Ashton letter said [AFP, 22 October].

Separately, today Russia also urged Iran to accept Ashton’s offer. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who would represent Russia in the negotiations, called on Tehran to agree to negotiations chaired by Ashton [Interfax News Agency, 22 October].

"We urge our Iranian friends and colleagues to officially respond in a positive manner to the invitation," Ryabkov said.

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