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January 28, 2022

EU’s Catherine Ashton to meet Iran nuclear negotiator

EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton is to hold talks with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in a bid to end the stand-off over the Iranian nuclear programme. A spokeswoman for Baroness Ashton said the meeting in Istanbul was “part of continuing efforts to engage Iran”. Tehran said Mr Jalili would emphasise its right to peaceful nuclear energy. Talks in June between Iran and the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – ended without a breakthrough. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said afterwards that the proposals they had seen from Iran had been “non-starters”. State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to gauge whether the Iranians were “prepared to bring anything new”. The P5+1 were expected to discuss Iran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month, Ms Nuland added. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Mr Jalili would seek a “framework that can help both remove the concerns and ambiguities regarding various issues, including the issue of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, and… the rights and concessions Iran should have in return for commitment to the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty]”.On Monday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency might have been infiltrated by “terrorists and saboteurs” who “might be making decisions covertly”. Fereydun Abbasi-Davani cited an incident on 17 August, when power lines from the city of Qom to the underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordo were cut, shortly before an unscheduled visit by IAEA inspectors.

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