EU Chides Iran Over Nuclear Talks Venue Proposals

From The News Tribune

By Don Melvin and George Jahn

The European Union rebuked Iran on Wednesday in unusually direct language, suggesting it was willfully delaying new nuclear talks with six world powers by changing venues and setting preconditions on how the negotiations should be conducted.

The criticism appeared provoked by an announcement by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi that his country was now proposing Cairo as the host city of the next meeting. Salehi said Egypt welcomed the proposal and was in contact with the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – on the issue.

Diplomats from some of those world powers have expressed frustration in recent weeks about what they say are Iran’s tactics of proposing several venues but not committing to any single one. But the comments Wednesday by the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton were the first to voice that sentiment on record.

Ashton has acted as the convener of previous talks. The comments, by Michael Mann, her spokesman, were clearly meant to put the responsibility on Tehran for lack of agreement on a venue and date for such a meeting, despite weeks of consultations.

“We proposed concrete dates and venues in December,” he told reporters. “Ever since then, we have been very surprised to see Iran come back to us again and again with new preconditions on the modalities of the talks, for example by changing the venue and delaying their responses.

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