London: Key talks involving six major countries
and Iran on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, which
resumed Saturday in Istanbul after a 15-month impasse, were
described as "positive", even as Iran refused a request from the
US for a bilateral meeting.
Known collectively as the P5+1, the six world powers are the US,
Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.
The Iranian delegation was headed by Saeed Jalili, secretary of
the Supreme National Security Council, while the six nation
delegation was headed by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The West accuses Iran of building nuclear weapons, but Iran
maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful civilian
Michael Mann, a spokesman for Ashton, said the talks were "totally
different" from the last session 15 months ago.
"There is a positive atmosphere... contrasting with the last
time," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
After a two-and-a-half-hour morning session, Mann said: "The
principles for future talks seem to be there."
Russia earlier warned both sides not to "overblow the differences"
"We really need to find a middle course," said Deputy Foreign
Minister Sergei Ryabkov. "The negotiations are about renewing
Meanwhile, Jalili refused a request from the US for a bilateral
meeting in Istanbul, Xinhua reported.
Officials said the US delegation participating in the talks was
open to a bilateral meeting with their Iranian counterparts.
"The Americans are open to the idea of meeting with the Iranians,"
a European diplomat participating in the talks told Xinhua.
US President Barack Obama earlier described the P5+1 talks as the
"last chance" for diplomacy to work, while Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said Iran had to "demonstrate clearly in the
actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear
Tehran and the P5+1 have already held two rounds of talks in the
past, one in Geneva in December 2010 and another in Istanbul in
The second round of the new negotiations will be held in Iraqi
capital Baghdad, the date of which will be announced at the end of
the Istanbul meeting.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an opinion piece
in the Washington Post Friday that Tehran was committed to a
peaceful nuclear programme, but it needs to see trust from the
"Despite sanctions, threats of war, assassinations of several of
our scientists and other forms of terrorism, we have chosen to
remain committed to dialogue," he wrote.
According to CNN, Iran has the right, like other countries -- as a
signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- to enrich
uranium for commercial and research reactors. But the same
facilities that are used for peaceful enrichment can be used to
enrich uranium for a bomb.