US, Iran gear for historic nuclear talks

2013-09-26 07:47
(Picture: Supplied)

(Picture: Supplied)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

United Nations - With the eyes of the world upon them, the United States and Iran will on Thursday have one of their highest-level meetings since the 1979 revolution as their foreign ministers join talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

And while officials are saying that no bilateral talks are planned between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, there remains the chance for a quick tete-a-tete in the corridor.

Zarif will be the first Iranian foreign minister to sit down with his counterparts from the five permanent members of the UN Security - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany to discuss Iran's nuclear programme.

The Iranian delegation will only join part of the talks being hosted by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton however, and no-one is keen to raise hopes of a breakthrough in the dragging negotiations.

Indeed the encounter with European, Russian and Chinese foreign ministers is set to be brief.

It comes after speculation that Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani would meet or at least shake hands with President Barack Obama at the United Nations fizzled out.

But diplomats say Thursday's meeting will give them the first chance to take the measure of the new Iranian leadership which took office in August.

And they insist it will give the Iranians the opportunity to prove there is some substance behind Rouhani's charm offensive, and his claims that Iran is only seeking to pursue a peaceful civilian nuclear energy programme.

Ashton, who has led Western efforts to engage with Tehran, said this week she was "struck by the energy and determination" of Zarif.

But "as you would appreciate, there is a huge amount of work to do," she added.

‘National pride’

The international powers made a new proposal to Tehran this year, before Rouhani's election, believed to offer some relief from international sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy in return for a scaling back of its uranium enrichment.

"There's a sense that we never actually got a firm response or a detailed response to that," a senior US official said.

One western diplomat said however that "while we are sensitive to signals there isn't the slightest overture, it's the same old speech."

"We told him that there is an offer on the table, and that if you have an offer we'll look at it carefully," the diplomat said.

"If the Iranians say they want a new round of talks as they have something serious to propose, we'll accept. If there is the slightest opportunity we'll take it."

For his part Zarif said on his Twitter account from New York: "We have a historic opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue," if world powers adjust to the "new Iranian approach".

Obama and Rouhani, in almost back-to-back speeches at the United Nations on Tuesday, both stressed their willingness to try to resolve the nuclear issue. But they came at it from different perspectives.

Rouhani said Iran poses "absolutely no threat to the world," and condemned the international sanctions against his country.

He reiterated Iran's longstanding position that the international community had to accept Iran's nuclear activity, which Western nations say hides an attempt to reach a nuclear bomb capacity.

Noting that Rouhani has said Iran will "never" build a nuclear bomb, Obama said there was a basis for "a meaningful agreement".

But he stressed: "To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable" on the nuclear programme.

"The roadblocks may prove to be too great, but I firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested," Obama said.

And in an interview with The Washington Post, Rouhani said he hoped to reach an agreement on the nuclear programme within three months, insisting he had the full backing of the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to broker a deal.

"The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that's short - and wrap it up. That is a decision of my government, that short is necessary to settle the nuclear file," he said.

"If it's three months that would be Iran's choice, if it's six months that's still good. It's a question of months not years."

In a separate television interview on Wednesday, Rouhani said that the right to civilian nuclear energy had become linked to Iranian identity.

"The nuclear issue has turned into an issue of national pride and a symbol of the perseverance of our people," he told "The Charlie Rose Show" on US public television.

Saying that Iranians wanted no more than what is allowed under international law, Rouhani added: "Once we abide by that, I think everything else is settled".

Read more on:    un  |  barack obama  |  john kerry  |  ayatollah ali khamenei  |  hassan rouhani  |  javad zarif  |  iran  |  us  |  iran nuclear programme

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
12 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.