Iranian nuclear talks face further delay

Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:35pm EST
 
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By Adrian Croft

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The next talks between six global powers and Iran on its nuclear program are likely to be delayed until February, a diplomat said on Friday, after European officials accused Tehran of stalling on fixing a time and place for a meeting.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is coordinating efforts by the powers to persuade Iran to scale back nuclear activity that the West suspects is aimed at developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

The long standoff over Tehran's nuclear program has fuelled concerns Israel could attack Iran's nuclear installations and thereby unleash a broader Middle East war.

Nuclear diplomacy between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain has been deadlocked since a meeting in June last year that ended without a breakthrough.

Talks had been expected to resume soon after last November's re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, possibly in December or January.

EU diplomats and Iranian officials have held intensive discussions on arranging a new round. But EU officials say Iran has been dragging its feet on fixing a date and location.

"It seems more likely now that the next round will take place in February," a European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. "There is still no agreement on the next round, but contacts are ongoing."

The diplomat voiced disappointment that there was still no agreement on a meeting. "We showed flexibility when it came to date and venue. We want to present our refreshed offer (to Iran) but didn't get the opportunity to do so," the diplomat said.   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