EU open to talks with Iran, without preconditions

Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency says Iran will offer fresh nuclear negotiations in letter to EU.

By REUTERS
December 31, 2011 13:22
2 minute read.
European Union flags in Brussels

European Union flags in Brussels 311. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

 
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BRUSSELS - The European Union is open to meaningful talks with Tehran provided there are no preconditions on the Iranian side, an EU foreign policy spokesman said on Saturday.

Earlier, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency quoted a senior official as saying that Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili will write to the EU's foreign affairs chief to express Tehran's readiness for fresh nuclear talks with major powers.

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"Jalili will soon send a letter to Catherine Ashton over the format of negotiations ... then fresh talks will take place with major powers," said Iran's ambassador to Germany Alireza Sheikh Attar.

EU foreign policy spokesman, Michael Mann, said in an email to Reuters that Catherine Ashton wrote to Jalili in October and had not yet had a response.

"We continue to pursue our twin-track approach and are open for meaningful discussions on confidence-building measures, without preconditions from the Iranian side," he said.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, plus Germany (P5+1) stalled in January.

The EU is considering a ban - already in place in the United States - on imports of Iranian oil, although diplomats and traders say awareness is growing in the EU that such a ban could damage the bloc's economy without doing much to hurt Iran.

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Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said imposing sanctions on Iran's oil exports would lead to a leap in prices.

"Undoubtedly the price of crude will increase dramatically if sanctions are imposed on our oil ... It will reach at least over $200 per barrel," the Aseman weekly quoted Qasemi on Saturday as saying.

During military drills in 2009, Iran test-fired its surface-to-surface Shahab-3 missile, said to be capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East.

Washington has expressed concern about Tehran's missiles, which include the Shahab-3 strategic intermediate range ballistic missile with a range of up to 1,000 km (625 miles), the Ghadr-1 with an estimated 1,600 km range and a Shahab-3 variant known as Sajjil-2 with a range of up to 2,400 km.

Iranian media have said the latest naval exercise differed from previous ones in terms of "the vastness of the area of action and the military equipment and tactics that are being employed".

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