(photo credit: AP)
Iran's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that its top nuclear negotiator and the European Union's foreign policy chief would meet on Thursday in an effort to explore whether there's room to resume negotiations over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
The announcement came hours after the ministry said the meeting between Ali Larijani and the EU's Javier Solana had been postponed. It did not say why it initially said the talks were postponed and then announced the talks were set for Thursday.
"Regarding the last agreements between Mr. Larijani and Mr. Solana Thursday, May 31 is announced as the time of the talks," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a statement.
But the meeting location would be "decided in further consultations," according to the statement, a copy of which was sent to The Associated Press. EU officials have suggested that Madrid was a possible location.
Iran and the West are on a standoff over Tehran's controversial nuclear program. Iran's nuclear defiance - most recently documented in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that was sent to the UN Security Council - has set the stage for further sanctions against Tehran.
The Security Council has demanded Iran suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce both reactor fuel and - at higher levels - weapons-grade material. The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Iran on Dec. 23 for rejecting its demands, then modestly increased them in March.
On Friday, senior European officials met with a ranking Iranian envoy in Brussels, Belgium to prepare for the Larijani-Solana talks. Officials suggested the meeting was positive in demonstrating a joint effort to try to return to negotiations over Iran's enrichment program.
The United States and allies contend Iran is secretly aiming to develop nuclear weapons. But Iran insists its nuclear program seeks only to develop energy.