N-talks to reconcile Russian, EU plans: Iranian minister

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 21:50 hrs

Tehran, Feb 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The upcoming talks on Iran's nuclear programme will be dedicated to reconciling Russian and European proposals on the issue, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has said.

Last year, Iran announced that it had put forward a five-point plan based on proposals outlined by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2011.

Lavrov's plan suggested a gradual easing of economic sanctions against Tehran in exchange for its increased collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based global nuclear watchdog.

But the European Union has pitched a separate three-step plan, announced last month, for the nuclear programme, Salehi said.

"Now the negotiating parties will try to find common ground between the two plans," he said.

Salehi refused to elaborate on either plan's details, but said that reconciling them would be the main focus of the meeting set for Feb 26 between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries involved in negotiations on the nuclear programme.

The P5+1, comprising the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, Britain and the US - as well as Germany, is set to hold the meeting in Kazakhstan's former capital, Almaty.

The group last met in June 2012 but made no breakthroughs.

Salehi also said that Iran would not, for the time being, take up the US offer of direct bilateral talks, floated earlier this month by US Vice President Joe Biden.

But he added that such talks are possible in the unspecified future, if the US gives up its "policies of threats and pressure".

"You may say that their rhetoric has changed, becoming more positive. But it is still not enough yet," Salehi said.

A number of Western countries have expressed fears that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at creating weapons, while Tehran insists it is purely peaceful and in line with international treaties.

--IANS/RIA Novosti


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