EU says Iran stalling on nuclear talks

Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:29pm EST
 

By Justyna Pawlak and Yeganeh Torbati

BRUSSELS/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran is stalling on fixing a date and location for a new round of talks on its nuclear program, the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Wednesday, but there is still hope that talks between Tehran and six world powers can begin soon.

EU officials have been in contact with Iranian negotiators repeatedly since December to try to prepare a new set of talks, which the West hopes will lead to Iran scaling back its nuclear work and avert the threat of another war in the Middle East.

But they have failed to agree on a plan so far.

"We proposed concrete dates and a venue in December," said a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, who oversees contacts with Iran on behalf of United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, often referred to as the six world powers.

"Since then, we have been very surprised to see Iran come back to us again and again with new pre-conditions on the modalities of the talks, for example by changing the venue and delaying their responses," spokesman Michael Mann said.

The Iranian Students' News Agency reported on Wednesday that Tehran had proposed Cairo as a possible venue, although without indicating when the meeting could take place.

The six powers have used a mix of diplomacy and economic sanctions for years to force Iran to comply with United Nations' demands that it suspend all of its activities related to enriching uranium, a key component of nuclear weapons.

But Iran rejects international accusations that its nuclear work has military goals, saying it is for medical and energy purposes, and has repeatedly said it wants international sanctions eased before it limits its atomic work.   Continued...

 
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton holds a news conference after an European Union emergency foreign ministers meeting to discuss the crisis in Mali January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman