Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BAGHDAD - Iran has proposed holding the next round of talks with six
world powers over its disputed nuclear program next week in Iraq instead
of Turkey, Iraq's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday the April 13-14
negotiations with Iran would be held in Istanbul, the first such meeting
since January 2011 when the two sides failed even to agree on an
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters the proposal for
talks in Baghdad came from an Iranian delegation visiting on Tuesday and
he would meet with ambassadors from the five Western powers plus
Germany on Tehran's plan.
"The proposal came from them. We received a delegation from Iran...
Today we are inviting G5 plus one ambassadors to hand over a letter
about the proposal," Zebari said.
Iraq's Shi'ite-led government is closely aligned with Iran in a region
where Sunni Arab Gulf powers are jockeying for influence with Shi'ite
Earlier in the week, a senior Iranian figure spoke out against Turkey
hosting the talks as once warm Iranian-Turkish relations have cooled in
the past year over the Turkish position against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran's close Arab ally.
The statement was one of the latest anti-Turkish broadside from politicians in Tehran, Fars news agency reported late on Monday.
Turkey, a former friend of Assad, has demanded he halt a bloody crackdown on his opponents and step down.
"Given the fact that our friends in Turkey have failed to fulfill some
of our agreements, the talks... had better be held in another friendly
country," said former presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie, Fars News
Last month Turkey had offered Istanbul as the venue for talks expected
to take place on April 13, a proposal which appeared to gather momentum
last week when Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Istanbul
would be "the best option."
Turkey has repeatedly backed Iran's right to develop peaceful nuclear
technology. The United States and its allies suspect Tehran of covertly
working on nuclear weapons and have imposed tough new sanctions on its
financial and energy sectors.
Tehran, which says its nuclear activities are purely peaceful, has
agreed to renewed talks with the five permanent members of the Security
Council - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - and
Germany this month.