Ashton agrees to meet with Iranian negotiator on Dec. 5

EU foreign policy chief acquiesces to meet with Iranian official to discuss Islamic Regime's atomic program, requests meeting not be in Turkey.

November 12, 2010 21:53
1 minute read.
Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton agreed on Friday to a meeting with Iran's chief nuclear energy negotiator in early December based on proposal advanced earlier by Teheran.

After consultations with the P5+1 powers (the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany), an EU diplomat told Reuters that Ashton had decided to suggest a December 5 meeting with Iranian nuclear negotiations official Saeed Jalili.

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Jalili had sent a letter to Ashton earlier this week to propose a meeting between the two set for either Nov. 23 or Dec. 5 in Turkey.

"Catherine Ashton is expected to respond to Iran by the end of the day and is expected to agree to Iran's proposal to meet on Dec. 5, but not in Istanbul," the official told Reuters.

A copy of Ashton's letter later given to journalists stated, "As far as the venue is concerned, holding the meeting in Istanbul is not possible," the EU letter said. The proposed locations for the meeting were said to have been at locations in Austria (home to UN nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency) and Switzerland.

Whether Ashton can achieve any breakthrough regarding the Teheran's drive towards nuclear energy and weapons remains in doubt.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the Islamic Regime was not prepared to discuss the "nuclear issue" with world powers during a speech in the central Iranian city of Qazvin.

According to an Iranian Press TV report, Ahmadinejad told gathered supporters:

"Iran is ready to hold talks on equal conditions to help settle ongoing problems, ease international concerns and establish peace and security in the world."

He reportedly continued: "We have repeatedly said that our (nuclear) rights are not negotiable ... We only hold talks to resolve international problems ... to help the establishment of peace."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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