Larijani arrives in Vienna for last-ditch EU-Iran meeting
VIENNA, Sept 9 (AFP) Sep 09, 2006
Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani arrived in Vienna Saturday for a last-ditch bid with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to avert UN sanctions over Tehran's atomic ambitions.
Solana's spokeswoman in Brussels said the two men would meet at 5:00 pm (1500 GMT), and diplomats in the Austrian capital suggested the likely venue was the federal chancellery building.
Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel is not involved in the talks but Austrian authorities would be making a meeting place possible, the diplomats said.
In Tehran, the Iranian news agency IRNA said Larijani had in meetings with the Spanish and Italian prime ministers over the past two days "underlined Iran's readiness to resolve the nuclear standoff in the framework of obtaining Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology".
The meeting comes with the United States pushing for a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran over its contested nuclear program to be drafted as early as next week.
This would allow foreign ministers from the six nations trying to win guarantees that Iran will not make nuclear weapons to "complete a sanctions resolution" when they meet in New York at the UN General Assembly the week after next, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Friday in Berlin.
Washington charges Iran with hiding work to develop nuclear weapons but Iran says its program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity.
The six world powers are seeking talks with Iran on a package of benefits for the Islamic Republic but demand that Tehran first suspend uranium enrichment.
Enrichment has a peaceful application to make nuclear reactor fuel but also can produce the raw material for nuclear weapons.
Iran has defied a Security Council resolution demanding an enrichment freeze by August 31 and threatening sanctions if Tehran does not comply.
Solana said Friday in Copenhagen that no UN sanctions would be imposed on Iran "as long as meetings with Mr. Larijani continue."
Solana said it would become clearer on Saturday whether it would be possible to begin negotiations between Tehran and the six world powers, and added that he was "optimistic but not naive" about the outcome of his meeting with Larijani.
A Vienna-based diplomat said the problem in getting Larijani and Solana together was "because they want to be sure there will be an (good) outcome before they go into the meeting."
"There's a very clear agenda," notably to facilitate the resumption of talks, the diplomat said.
Another diplomat said the six world powers were watching how the Larijani-Solana meeting went to see if there was a hope of moving towards negotiations rather than sanctions.
The diplomat said Iranians would be explaining their 21-page response on August 22 to the incentives package.
"The response is not clear in all aspects. The Europeans are seeking some clarification and Iran is also interested in clearing things up," the diplomat said.
Iran is seeking time guarantees on getting benefits, such as light-water reactors, two experts on Iran, Abbas Maleki and Kevah Afrasiabi, had said in August.
A senior European diplomat, who saw the confidential Iranian response, said Iran had "not said 'no' to the offer but did say 'no' to suspending enrichment."All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.