EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic)
The European Union denied Iranian comments on Wednesday that negotiations were underway between Western powers and Tehran to restart talks over the OPEC producer's nuclear program.
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"There are no negotiations underway on new talks," a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. "We are still waiting for Iran to respond to the substantive proposals the High Representative (Ashton) made in her letter from October."
Earlier Wednesday, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that negotiations are already underway to hold new talks between Western powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. He added that the most likely venue for the talks is Istanbul, but stated that a date had not yet been set.
"Talks are going on about venue and date. We would like to have these negotiations," Salehi told reporters during a visit to Turkey, where he is expected to meet Turkish leaders.
Salehi also said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in touch
with the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who
heads the so-called P5+1 delegation, and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator
Saeed Jalili to try to arrange a date and venue.
"My personal view is to hold this in Turkey in Istanbul. Negotiations
are still going on. My colleague Davutoglu is in touch with Lady Ashton
and Jalili so that the date and venue is fixed. Most probably, I am not
sure yet, the venue will be Istanbul. The day is not yet settled, but it
will be soon."
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Istanbul was the venue of the last talks a year ago which ended in
stalemate because participants could not even agree on an agenda. Iran
has since come under much tougher sanctions from the West which accuses
it of seeking nuclear weapons capability.
Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it has a sovereign right to atomic technology.
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