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'Content, date, venue' of nuclear talks undecided, says Iran - Daily News Egypt

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‘Content, date, venue’ of nuclear talks undecided, says Iran

TEHRAN: said on Tuesday that the content, date and venue of a mooted fresh round of talks with six major world powers on its controversial nuclear program have yet to be finalized. The latest comment from Tehran came days after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in talks with Iran, …


TEHRAN: said on Tuesday that the content, date and venue of a mooted fresh round of talks with six major world powers on its controversial nuclear program have yet to be finalized.

The latest comment from Tehran came days after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in talks with Iran, proposed that the negotiations be held in Vienna from November 15 to 17.

"Discussions are under way about the date of the negotiations, the venue and content of the negotiations," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters at his weekly press conference.

"Both sides should agree on this and the other side (the major powers) must show flexibility."

Mehmanparast said the two sides needed to agree on an agenda for talks.

"We think the content of the negotiations is more important," he said.

"While we do need to come to a conclusion on the date and place for the talks, the content of the negotiations should also be agreed by the two sides."

Iran has always insisted that the talks be held on the basis of its package of proposals presented to the major powers before the last round of talks in October last year.

That package does not explicitly refer to its atomic program.

In a letter to Iran on Friday, Ashton insisted that the "main focus" of the talks would be the "question of the Iranian nuclear program," which Western governments suspect is aimed at developing a weapons capability, a charge Tehran denies.

Ashton represents the six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in the negotiations with Iran.
Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have broadly welcomed the prospect of fresh talks, but a spokesman for Ashton said on Friday she was still waiting for Tehran’s formal response.

Although agreeing to talks, Ahmadinejad and several Iranian lawmakers have reiterated three conditions which they say the major powers must answer during the negotiations.

Lawmakers say the conditions were outlined to Ashton in a letter in July by Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

He told Ashton that the world powers must say whether the talks are aimed at "engagement and cooperation or continued confrontation and hostility towards Iranians."

"Will you be committed to the logic of talks which calls for avoiding threats and pressure?" he asked, while calling on the six powers to give a "clear view" on the "Zionist regime’s nuclear arsenal."

Israel, which has not ruled out taking military action against Iran over its nuclear ambitions, is believed to be the Middle East’s sole but undeclared nuclear-armed power.

"Ms. Ashton’s clear and frank response to these questions is required in order to clarify the framework of talks, but unfortunately she has not reacted," Abolfazl Zohrevand, a deputy to Jalili, told Fars news agency this week.

"Suddenly without any contacts with our nuclear negotiator she mentions the time, period and venue for the talks."

Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi, meanwhile, said the loading of fuel into the reactor core of the Russian-built nuclear power plant began on Tuesday.

"We hope that electricity produced by the Bushehr nuclear power plant will connect to the national grid in three months’ time," he was quoted as saying by state television’s website.

Iran began transferring fuel to the facility on August 21, a process which was described as the "physical launch" of the power plant by Russia which took over construction of the complex in the mid 1990s.

The Islamic republic, rich in oil and gas, says it needs the plant to meet a growing demand for electricity.

Iran is under four sets of United Nations sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which can be used to make nuclear fuel or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atom bomb.

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