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Iran hopes Jalili’s talks with Ashton will be constructive
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_02_ep4(73).jpgTEHRAN – Iran has expressed hope that its chief nuclear negotiator and the EU foreign policy chief would hold constructive talks in Istanbul on Wednesday. 
 
“We hope that the response that Ms. Ashton will provide at a bilateral meeting with Mr. Jalili tomorrow will be constructive, and we are waiting to hear her response,” Iran’s new Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Araghchi, said at his first press briefing in Tehran on Tuesday.
 
He was referring to the meeting that the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, is scheduled to hold with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Istanbul today to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability but Iran insists is purely for peaceful purposes. 
 
Ashton leads diplomatic efforts to resolve the decade-old nuclear dispute on behalf of the six major powers, namely the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany, which are known as the P5+1 group. 
 
The most recent round of high-level talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, which failed to produce a breakthrough, was held in the Kazakh city of Almaty on April 5 and 6.
 
They held similar negotiations in the same city on February 26 and 27.
 
According to the New York Times, in February talks, the major powers dropped their demand that Iran shut down its underground uranium-enrichment plant at Fordo, where it enriches uranium to 20 percent, 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 keep a small amount of uranium enriched to 20 percent for use in a research reactor that produces medical isotopes. 
 
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 would not be loosened.
 
Iran’s main demand is that its right to uranium enrichment, as stipulated in the NPT, be recognized.
 
At the end of the talks in April, Ashton told reporters, “The two sides remain far apart on substance.” “What matters in the end is substance, and… we are still a considerable distance apart.” 
 
She added, “We therefore agreed all sides will go back to their capitals to evaluate on the process.” 
 
Iran ready to cooperate with IAEA 
 
Araghchi was also asked to comment on the remarks that International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano made on May 11, in which he, according to Reuters, said that it would be a good idea to send experts to check the safety of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor, a day after Iran said its facilities were safe following a nearby earthquake. 
 
The Iranian spokesman said that Iran had signed safeguards agreements with the IAEA and was ready to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog within the framework of those agreements. 
 
U.S. absence in UN meeting chaired by Iran not important 
 
In addition, Araghchi commented on the fact that the United States said on Monday that it would refuse to send its ambassador to a UN meeting on disarmament in Geneva, which will be led by Iranian Ambassador to the UN, Seyyed Mohammad Sajjadi, from May 27 to June 23. 
 
He said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s mission in Geneva has a strong and effective presence in regard to all issues related to nuclear disarmament and arms control in the world, and we have an active participation in all initiatives, and all countries acknowledge that Iran’s presence in conferences on disarmament and arms control and conferences related to world peace and security has been an effective and strong presence.”      
 
“We will continue our presence as the chair of conferences wherever necessary, and the pressure exerted by others and their absence will not be important for us,” Araghchi added.  
 
Araghchi hopes diplomat’s arrest was due to misunderstanding  
 
On the arrest in March of Baqer Asadi, a former diplomat at Iran’s UN mission in New York, in Tehran, Araghchi said, “We are waiting for the announcement of the final result by security officials, and, at the same time, we definitely defend the rights of our colleague so that he would be subject to due process during security and judicial investigations.” 
 
He also expressed hope that the arrest was due to a “misunderstanding”. 
 
EP/PA

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Last Updated on 14 May 2013 17:15