|Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator holds talks in Beijing, Moscow||
TEHRAN - The deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Baqeri, who is the country’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, has held talks with Chinese and Russian officials ahead of the next round of talks between Tehran and world powers.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) held a new round of talks in Istanbul on April 14, breaking a 15-month hiatus in talks.
The two sides described the Istanbul talks as positive and agreed to meet again in Baghdad on May 23, and Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general for political affairs of the European External Action Service, and Baqeri were tasked with drawing up an agenda for the Baghdad talks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has expressed optimism about the upcoming talks on several occasions, saying that more progress will be made during the negotiations.
“We hope that the Baghdad meeting will be successful. We took one step forward in the Istanbul meeting. God willing, we will take several steps forward in Baghdad,” Salehi stated on April 29.
Baqeri, during his stay in Beijing on Tuesday, met with Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu, and the two officials exchanged views on Iran’s nuclear issue and the latest international developments.
He also held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Moscow on Wednesday.
Bagheri and Ryabkov discussed the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, bilateral issues, and international developments.
Speculation surrounds the content of the Baghdad talks with some saying that Iran may accept the Additional Protocol.
Some believe that the Russian proposal for a “step-by-step” plan may be the basis of the negotiations.
On July 13, 2011, Russia made a proposal for a step-by-step approach, according to which Iran could address questions about its nuclear program and be rewarded with a gradual easing of sanctions.
In addition, the Los Angeles Times wrote on April 27 that Obama administration officials might agree to let Tehran continue enriching uranium up to concentrations of 5% if the Iranian government agreed to unrestricted inspections, and strict oversight and safeguards.
However, Iran has made it clear that any decision in this regard rests with the negotiating team.
The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Iran says all its nuclear activities are totally peaceful, and, as an International Atomic Energy Agency member and a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory, it has the legal right to produce nuclear fuel for its research reactors and nuclear power plants.
Russia and China, as two members of the 5+1 group, are not opposed to Iran’s enrichment activities.
Now, all eyes are on the Baghdad talks to see whether or not an agreement can be reached between Iran and world powers.
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