Geneva talks find no path to full Iran negotiations

July 20th, 2008 - 7:51 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 20 (DPA) Iran and world powers, including the US for the first time, failed to find a way towards full negotiations in Geneva Saturday, as Tehran’s representatives did not agree to the precondition of suspending uranium enrichment. Speaking at a news conference after talks with Iranian negotiator Saeid Jalili, EU chief diplomat Solana said that “the most important question” in the dispute with Iran remained unanswered.

On behalf of the UN Security Council veto powers and Germany, Solana met Jalili to talk about future cooperation in the areas of economy, nuclear energy and politics, once Tehran halts its nuclear activities.

The meeting was supposed to make full negotiations possible by squaring the world powers’ precondition of nuclear suspension with Iran’s insistence on its right to civilian nuclear energy.

“We have not gotten an answer,” Solana told reporters. He suggested that talks with Iran would continue within weeks, expressing his hope that Tehran would reply within fourteen days.

“We have talked frankly,” Solana said, but both he and Jalili said the talks had been “constructive”.

Britain, France, Germany, the US, Russia and China are offering Iran a “freeze for freeze” approach. In a pre-negotiation phase, Tehran would not expand its enrichment facility in Natanz, while the six nations would not press for additional Security Council sanctions.

After confidence between the two sides has been established in this phase, Iran would halt its uranium enrichment, and comprehensive talks about the world powers’ offer of cooperation and similar package put forward by Iran could start.

When Jalili was asked by reporters about the freeze-for-freeze phase, he said that both sides had talked about it for “many, many hours”. He said it was more important to find a “constructive approach … to address our common concerns”.

Iran presented a paper at the talks that focuses on future cooperation without addressing the six nations’ demands, a Western diplomat said.

The US representative at the talks, Undersecretary of State William Burns, was the first US diplomat in 30 years to attend negotiations with Iran.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made it clear that despite this signal to Tehran, the US still demands that Iran halt uranium enrichment before full negotiations can begin.

Representatives from Britain, France, Russia and China and Germany also attended the meeting in Geneva, the city in neutral Switzerland that has hosted many peace-making efforts in past decades.

The six countries are concerned Iran could one day use its civilian nuclear programme to build atom bombs, an allegation which Tehran strongly denies.

Jalili compared the ongoing diplomacy to carpet weaving that “moves ahead in millimetres”.

“And again, to some extent it is similar to Iranian carpets because it is a very precise work, it’s in certain cases a very beautiful endeavour, and hopefully the end result, the final product, would be beautiful to behold,” he said.

World powers have tried to stop Tehran’s nuclear programme ever since it became clear in 2002 that Iran had hidden its activities from IAEA inspectors for 18 years.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |