WASHINGTON, (AFP) — The United States said Friday that any new international nuclear talks with Iran should take place first in central Europe but added that follow-on talks could be held in Turkey, as Iran has proposed.
In Brussels, European Union diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday agreed to resume the long-stalled nuclear talks between six world powers and Iran on December 5, and suggested they be held in Austria or Switzerland.
“Istanbul could still be a location for a second follow-on meeting,” US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. “But the general consensus is that the first meeting should be somewhere in central Europe.”
Iran this week proposed the talks take place in Istanbul but “Ashton’s preference is that the first meeting take place somewhere else in Europe and has proposed Austria or Switzerland,” her office said.
Ashton represents Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany and the United States in the talks aimed at allaying Western fears that Iran’s nuclear program masks a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian program, which Tehran denies.
Crowley was vague about why it was better to launch the talks in Central Europe than in Turkey. “We think it’s a more appropriate and a more convenient location for a first meeting.”
The last round of negotiations over a nuclear fuel-swap deal deadlocked in October 2009 and Washington this week said there could be multiple meetings and multiple venues.
Turkey and Brazil early this year brokered a modified fuel-swap deal which Washington rejected before securing a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.