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'Disappointing' Iran Nuclear Talks Wrap Up In Istanbul

Source: RFE/RL

Iran and six world powers have failed to break the impasse on Tehran's nuclear program at a new round of talks in Istanbul.

The two-day meeting between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- plus Germany collapsed today with Iran rejecting calls to cease uranium enrichment and allow enhanced UN monitoring of its nuclear activities.

Iranian delegates also snubbed a deal under which Iran would ship some of its enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for foreign-supplied, specialized fuel for its medical reactor in Tehran.

Speaking at a news conference after the talks, the chief negotiator for the six world powers, EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton, blamed Iran for the disappointing results.

"This is not the conclusion I had hoped for. We had hoped to embark on a discussion of practical ways forward, and have made every effort to make that happen," she said. "I'm disappointed to say that this has not been possible."

At a separate conference, chief Iranian negotiator Said Jalili reiterated his country's stance that any agreement with world powers over its nuclear program should be based on Tehran's right to nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (L) and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton

Ashton said Tehran's preconditions for talks were unacceptable. These include a demand that the UN Security Council lift sanctions imposed because of Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

She said the two sides had set no date for any new meeting but that Iran's interlocutors were still open for dialogue if Tehran adopted a more constructive approach.

"Our proposals remain on the table, our door remains open, our telephone lines are open," Ashton said. "We hope that they will consider them, and respond to them. If they do, we will be able to move forward into further discussion."

The West suspects Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its atomic energy program is peaceful. The Islamic republic has refused to grant free access for UN nuclear inspectors.

Iran today also rejected a proposal for a bilateral meeting with the United States in Istanbul as unnecessary.

compiled from agency reports

Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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