Volume. 12230

Iran, 5+1 to meet again in Moscow to ‘expand common ground’
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_famous_02_irannuc2.jpgBAGHDAD - Iran and the six major powers have agreed to continue their negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program in Moscow on June 18 and 19.   
The agreement was made after two days of intensive talks between negotiators from the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), who were led by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and the Iranian delegation, which was led by the secretary of Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Wednesday and Thursday. 
Ashton and Jalili attended a joint press conference on Thursday, in which the EU foreign policy chief said, “We will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts to prepare a further meeting in Moscow,” Reuters reported.  
The Associated Press quoted her as saying, “It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground.
“However, significant differences remain. Nonetheless, we do agree on the need for further discussion to expand that common ground.” 
According to Reuters, Ashton also said, “Iran declared its readiness to address the issue of 20 percent enrichment and came with its own five-point plan, including their assertion that we recognize their right to enrichment.”
Russia calls Baghdad talks ‘constructive’ 
According to the Now Lebanon website, Russia on Friday called the Baghdad talks “constructive”.  
Iran insists on its right to uranium enrichment 
Jalili, during the press conference, stated, “A good atmosphere prevailed in the talks, and the two sides expressed their views clearly and unequivocally.” 
He added, “The negotiations were very comprehensive, but they remained unfinished.” 
Asked what proposals the 5+1 group made during the talks, Jalili said, “The other side did not offer any package of proposals, and… they actually made one proposal regarding uranium enrichment. We expressed our view, and the main issue is that any cooperation in this area will depend on the preservation of the right of signatories to the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) to uranium enrichment.” 
He stated, “We have repeatedly announced this issue and discussed it in the negotiations that uranium enrichment is among the rights of NPT signatories. 
“The Islamic Republic of Iran insists on its right to peaceful use (of nuclear energy), particularly to uranium enrichment.”  
He added, “We have said that we can continue cooperation within this framework.” 
Jalili was also asked to comment on Ashton’s remarks, in which she said that Iran had declared its readiness to address the issue of enriching uranium to a purity level of 20 percent. 
He said, “As I stated, we believe that uranium enrichment for peaceful nuclear purposes is among Iran’s inalienable rights.”  
“The path of negotiations for cooperation can be successful and forward-looking if destructive paths are not followed in parallel with it, and this is a serious issue for us,” Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator stated in an indirect reference to the sanctions imposed on the country over the allegation that it is seeking to produce nuclear weapons. 
Clinton says U.S. will maintain sanctions on Iran 
However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that Washington will not ease sanctions on Iran before the Moscow meeting.
“As we lay the groundwork for these talks, we will keep up the pressure as part of our dual-track approach. All of our sanctions will remain in place and continue to move forward during this period,” she told reporters in Washington hours after talks between Iran and world powers concluded in Baghdad, Reuters reported. 
France says Iran must bring ‘constructive response’ to 5+1 group’s proposals 
In addition, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement, “Iran must bring a constructive response to our proposals in order to engage (in) a real negotiating process that will lead to concrete results,” the Kuwait News Agency reported on Friday. 
Part of the statement read, “Failing this, we will be forced to take new measures in the framework of the dual approach, which combines openness to dialogue and sanctions. 
“The members of the group presented their Iranian interlocutors with a package of concrete measures destined to establish confidence on the exclusively civil finality of the Iranian nuclear program.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday that Iran should take “urgent” and “concrete” steps to help resolve the dispute over the country’s nuclear activities, according to the Kuwait News Agency.  
The British foreign minister warned that if Iran fails to respond in a serious manner, they should be in no doubt that the West will intensify the pressure from sanctions, including the embargo on oil imports already agreed, and will urge other nations to do the same.
The European Union formally imposed an oil embargo on Iran and agreed to a freeze on the assets of the Central Bank of Iran on January 23, but existing contracts will be honored until July 1. 
“As we have confirmed at the conclusion of the talks in Baghdad today (Thursday), we remain fully committed to the diplomatic process underway and to finding a peaceful, negotiated solution to the nuclear issue,” he added. 
Iran is seeking to achieve concrete results from talks 
Ali Baqeri, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told reporters on Thursday, “Uranium enrichment is an inalienable right under the NPT, and, in Istanbul, the other side stated that it recognizes Iran’s nuclear rights within the framework of the NPT. In our view, this issue can be discussed within the framework of nuclear cooperation.”  
Tehran and world powers held a new round of talks in Istanbul on April 14, breaking a 15-month hiatus in talks. 
Baqeri added, “Iran’s nuclear needs and their true fulfillment is being discussed, and details of the issue will be discussed in the Moscow meeting.”   
“We do not negotiate only for the sake of negotiations, and we approve of this approach. Negotiations must produce concrete results, and the other side has emphasized this point that it is seeking serious results,” he stated. 
UN chief calls for diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issue 
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon believes dialogue is the “only way to go” in dealing with Iran’s nuclear issue, Martin Nesirky, the spokesman for Ban, told reporters in New York on Wednesday, the English service of IRNA reported. 
Iran denies reports Jalili met U.S. official 
AFP quoted unidentified officials as saying on Thursday that Jalili had a rare “chat” with Wendy Sherman, the head of the U.S. delegation, after talks between Tehran and world powers. 
“Jalili paused to chat with Sherman as they were leaving one of the plenaries,” a U.S. official said.
A Western diplomat added that there was a “brief encounter as the session wrapped up and people were heading out.”
However, Iran denied that any “meetings” took place with the United States, with an Iranian official telling AFP, “It’s absolutely not true. Mr. Jalili did not have any meetings with the Americans.” 
According to AFP, the last time that the U.S. and Iran held bilateral talks about the nuclear issue was on the sidelines of a similar meeting in Geneva on October 1, 2009, when William Burns, leading Washington’s delegation, met Jalili.

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Last Updated on 25 May 2012 19:15