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Obama: Diplomatic window for Iran is 'closing'

US president reiterates position on Tehran's nuclear issue after talks with Erdogan on eve of nuclear summit in Seoul.

March 26, 2012 00:40
2 minute read.
US President Obama at South, North Korea DMZ

Obama at South Korea DMZ 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Time is running short to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through diplomatic means, US President Barack Obama said on Sunday.

Obama reiterated his position on Iran after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of a nuclear security summit in Seoul.

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“I believe there is a window of time to solve this diplomatically but that window is closing,” Obama told reporters.

Erdogan spoke to Obama of his visit to Iran planned for later this month and said he would talk to Iranian leaders about the violence in Syria, an ally of Tehran, a senior US official said.

Iran and North Korea are not on the guest list or the agenda for the Seoul summit, but their nuclear standoffs with the West are dominating talks on the sidelines of the conference that is ostensibly focused on preventing nuclear terrorism.

Obama has spearheaded international efforts to isolate Tehran, which include several rounds of sanctions, but it has remained defiant on its nuclear program, despite showing an openness to possibly resuming long-suspended talks with world powers.

Israel has made clear what it thinks the outcome of talks should be, with Intelligence Affairs Minister Dan Meridor saying on Saturday the goal of the talks should be that Iran stop enriching uranium; remove all uranium enriched over 3.5 percent; and agree to tight supervision.

Meridor – along with Shaul Chorev, head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission – will represent the country at the summit, and will certainly pass on those expectations to his interlocutors.

Meridor represented Israel at the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in 2010, a summit that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not attend because of concerns that the Arab countries intended to turn Israel and its reported nuclear capabilities into the focus of the summit.

This time, because Egypt, Libya and Syria are otherwise preoccupied, those same concerns do not exist. Nevertheless, Meridor was dispatched – according to David Danieli, deputy director of the IAEC – because he attended the last meeting, understands the material, and his participation will ensure “continuity.”

Israel, Danieli said, was involved in the preparatory meetings for the Seoul summit, and one of its goals at the meeting is to promote cooperation with other countries and organizations on issues relating to keeping nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

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