Iran talks with world powers "not positive"
Published Monday, June 18, 2012
World powers and Iran met in Moscow on Monday for talks intended to narrow differences over Tehran's nuclear program and avert the danger of a new war in the Middle East, diplomats said.
But the atmosphere at the crunch talks was described as negative by a member of the Iranian delegation after several hours of meetings.
"So far the atmosphere is not positive," said the official, who asked not to be named. "Setting up the framework (for negotiation) is the main problem," he added, emphasizing that the assessment was still "preliminary."
A European Union spokesman said the talks were difficult and included a tense exchange of views.
"We had an intense and tough exchange of views," said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading six global powers at the talks in Moscow.
The six countries – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – hope to persuade Iran to curb production of high-grade uranium which the West suspects is a step towards making nuclear weapons.
Iran, which denies its nuclear program has military purposes, has refused to do so until the six powers publicly acknowledge that it has the right to carry out work.
Tehran also wants relief from intensifying economic sanctions, which faces new US and European Union sanctions in the next two weeks unless an agreement can be reached.
Western diplomats have said a breakthrough is unlikely at the Moscow meeting, the third such talks since diplomacy over the issue resumed after a 15-month hiatus in April.
Both sides have so far refused to move first, but both have welcomed efforts to boost confidence in the talks.
But early indications on Monday were positive, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to indicate that Iran would be prepared to stop high-grade uranium enrichment if world powers agreed to meet its needs for the fuel.
"From the beginning the Islamic Republic has stated that if European countries provided 20 percent enriched fuel for Iran, it would not enrich to this level," Ahmadinejad stated in comments published on his presidential website.