|Ashton urges West to be determined, creative in Iran nuclear talks||
TEHRAN – European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has called on Western negotiators to be “determined and creative” in their discussions with Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Speaking on March 16 at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum, Ashton said negotiators had to do more to build a level of “communication” and “trust” with the Iranian side.
Such a move, she said, would encourage Iranian officials to engage in a “real discussion”.
“When I first started to lead these negotiations, we weren’t really discussing the subject. Now we discuss the subject in detail, we have the slideshow presentations, we have a real discussion about the issues both when the technical-level discussions take place and the political-level,” Ashton said.
The most recent round of talks between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on February 26 and 27, and the two sides agreed to meet again at the same venue in April.
They also agreed to meet at expert level in Istanbul on March 18.
Iran denies Western allegations that it is covertly seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
In Almaty, the major powers dropped their demand that Iran shut down its underground uranium-enrichment plant at Fordo, and insisted instead that Iran suspend enrichment work there and agree to unspecified conditions that would make it hard to quickly resume production. They also said that Iran could continue to produce and keep a small amount of its uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent for use in a research reactor that produces medical isotopes, according to the New York Times.
If Tehran agreed to these steps, the major powers said they would suspend some sanctions against Iran, including trade in gold and petrochemicals, and would not impose new sanctions through the United Nations Security Council and the European Union. The main oil and financial sanctions that have caused Iran’s oil revenues to drop would not be loosened.
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