|Catherine Ashton, Saeed Jalili 370.(Photo by: REUTERS/Tolga Adanali/Pool )|
EU calls initial talks with Iran 'constructive'
Second session of talks scheduled for later in day; diplomat says atmosphere "completely different" than last year's talks.
ISTANBUL - World powers and Iran held talks on Tehran's nuclear program
in Istanbul on Saturday in a "constructive atmosphere", a European Union
spokesman said after the first session.
The six world powers -
the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain - met
senior Iranian officials for the first time in 15 months for talks aimed
at calming deepening tensions over Tehran's nuclear work.
met in a constructive atmosphere," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU
foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the powers in
dealings with Iran. "We had a positive feeling that they did want to
A second session of talks was scheduled later in the
day. Diplomats expect Tehran to lay out "new initiatives" to push
The atmosphere at the opening session of
Saturday's nuclear talks was "completely different" from that of
previous meetings, a diplomat said, describing it as "a good morning".
diplomat said Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili had not stated
the kind of preconditions that he had in the last meeting in early
2011, when the two sides failed to agree even on an agenda.
seems to have come with an objective to get into a process which is a
serious process, which is about what we want to talk about," said the
envoy, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I would say it has been a
useful morning's work."
The diplomat suggested the Iranian side
had signaled a readiness to enter a serious engagement on the dispute
over its nuclear program and that this could pave the way for a second
Western diplomats and officials had said in the run-up
to the meeting in Istanbul that they hoped for enough progress to be
able to schedule a new round of negotiations, perhaps in Baghdad next
But, the diplomat cautioned: "We could go backwards this
afternoon." He said he did not expect serious negotiations to take place
already during Saturday's talks, for example on the West's demand that
Tehran cease higher-grade uranium enrichment.
But the diplomat
added that Iran had indicated "openness on all those issues", in
contrast to the last time when Iran refused to talk about its nuclear
program, which it says is peaceful but the West suspects has military
"Not only are the atmospherics and the atmosphere
completely different from what they were previously but more importantly
he (Jalili) is not coming with the same preconditions and what we would
consider obstacles that we saw previously," the diplomat said.
said Jalili's tone in his opening statement was "calm and
constructive", even though there had been elements of "defiance and
disagreement" in a second intervention during the talks with the six
powers and their main representative, European Union foreign policy
chief Catherine Ashton.
Iran's ISNA news agency reported a US envoy had asked for a meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and that Jalili had accepted, but another news agency, Fars, later denied that.
One diplomat, asked about the ISNA report, said it was not clear whether there would be any bilateral meetings.