(photo credit: AP)
The European Union's foreign policy chief said Monday he wants to meet Iran's top nuclear negotiator again within weeks to discuss the deadlock over a UN Security Council demand that Teheran freeze uranium enrichment.
The EU's Javier Solana last held talks in April with Ali Larijani, who said at the time they had come closer to a "united view" on how to break the stalemate.
Solana said he would likely meet again with Larijani "in the coming weeks ... as soon as possible, to see if we can move on."
The April talks, held in Ankara, Turkey, were aimed at establishing if there was enough common ground for further discussions between the two men that could lead to a resumption of formal nuclear negotiations between Iran and the six countries leading international efforts to pressure Iran to make nuclear concessions. Those countries are United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
"The situation is very difficult. What we are demanding from Iran is the suspension of activities as long as the negotiations take place," Solana said in the European Parliament. "They will not continue ... the process of enrichment, and we will stop our sanctions in New York." Iran's defiance of the UN Security Council demands on enrichment has led to two sets of sanctions against the country.
Iran argues the sanctions are illegal, noting it has the right to enrich uranium to generate nuclear power under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iranian officials say nuclear power is the only purpose of their program, dismissing suspicions that they ultimately want weapons-grade uranium for the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
But the United States and others say past suspicious nuclear activities, including a program Iran kept secret for nearly two decades, set the country apart from others that have endorsed the treaty.