Middle East
Iran 'open to nuclear talks'
Iranian parliamentary speaker says issues can be easily solved through negotiations as US supports more sanctions.
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2012 23:57
Turkey's president (R) and Iran's parliament speaker reassured support for talks after a meeting in Ankara [Reuters]

Iran's parliamentary speaker has said that he believes that the standoff over his country's nuclear programme can be solved through serious talks.

Ali Larijani told a news conference after meeting Turkish leaders in Ankara on Thursday that Tehran supports the idea of holding further talks in Turkey.

Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, recently said he had called on six powers - the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - to resume talks.

"I believe all issues can be easily solved through negotiations," Larijani told the news conference.

"But this time, we want the talks to be serious, it should not be fake."

Turkey, a US ally that relies on Iranian oil and gas imports, signaled on Thursday that it will not comply with American sanctions against Iran regarding its nuclear programme.

Turkey indicated that it would only enforce sanctions that have been approved by the United Nations, and its announcement is a setback to US sanctions aimed at halting what Western governments say is Iran's effort to develop nuclear weapons.

Those penalties, targeting Iran's oil industry, would bar financial institutions from the US market if they do business with Iran's central bank.

"Turkey does not feel it is bound by any sanctions taken unilaterally or as a group, other than those imposed by the United Nations," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokespersonn Selcuk Unal told a news conference, which followed a meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Larijani.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who visited Turkey earlier this week, said the United States and Turkey share a broad strategic concern about the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

"I think both of our countries agree strongly that this would be a very dangerous and destabilising development for the entire region," Burns told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.

"While it is true we sometimes differ over tactics, I think we share that strategic concern, which is very important."

Nuclear inspection

Also on Thursday, diplomats said a senior UN nuclear agency team will visit Tehran on January 28 with Iran saying it is ready after years of refusal to discuss allegations that it was involved in secret nuclear weapons work.

Diplomats have previously said that International Atomic Energy Agency officials were discussing such a trip with their Iranian counterparts, but before the diplomats' comments on Thursday, no date or indication that Iran was ready to talk about the allegations had been mentioned.

Larijani, meanwhile, blamed Israel for a series of assassinations of its nuclear experts, the latest on Wednesday, when scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed by a bomb attached to his car by a passing bicyclist.

"We have a very active young generation of scientists. If Israel thinks it can stop these works by four acts of terror, it is very mistaken," Larijani said.

Israel has warned of a possible strike on Iran's nuclear programme. Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, has threatened to respond to sanctions by shutting the Strait of Hormuz, a transit route for a fifth of the world's oil.

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