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News number: 9101140044

20:38 | 2012-04-02

Foriegn Policy

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Senior Politician Calls for Change in Venue of Talks with World Powers

TEHRAN (FNA)- Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezayee called on Tehran's nuclear and foreign policy officials to change the venue of the upcoming talks with the world powers from Istanbul, Turkey, to another regional capital like Baghdad, Damascus or Beirut.

Rezayee, who was addressing the staff of the EC Secretariat here in Tehran on Monday, said, "Given the fact that our friends in Turkey have failed to fulfill some of our agreements, the talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) had better be held in another friendly country."

"Offering Istanbul as the venue for the upcoming talks with the G5+1 might give this wrong impression to the opposite side that Iran has grown weak and is in weak conditions, so selecting a venue for the talks needs to be given more thought so that they don't get the (wrong) impression that Istanbul is our only option," Rezayee, a senior strategist and a former Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), reiterated.

"Hence, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut are more suitable than Istanbul for holding talks (with the world powers)," he continued.

His comments came as diplomatic sources in the West announced last week that talks between Iran and the six world powers will likely resume next month.

One western diplomat said he expected a meeting to be held on April 13-14, while another envoy said those dates had not been confirmed and a third suggested later in the month was possible. The venue was unclear, they said.

A spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who handles dealings with Iran on behalf of the big powers, said "nothing has been decided yet" regarding the time and place for the meeting.

The last meeting between the two sides took place in Istanbul in January 2011. Iran and the G5+1 had also held two rounds of multifaceted talks in Geneva in December 2010.

On Wednesday, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran and the six world powers - the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China - are still in talks to pick up a venue for their upcoming negotiations, but meantime stated that he believed Turkey would be the best place to host the negotiations.

"To my personal opinion, Turkey is the best option for hosting the talks," Salehi told reporters on the sidelines of his Wednesday meeting with the visiting Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, here in Tehran.

Salehi said that the negotiations have been scheduled, but consultations are underway to set the venue.

He said that the Group 5+1 has welcomed the Turkish government's proposal to host the nuclear talks, but, "we have yet to decide on the venue".

He said that Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili is in direct contact with his negotiating partners about the venue of the talks.

Meantime, Turkish Ambassador to Tehran Umit Yardim said Turkey is ready to host the negotiations.

"As far as Turkey's hosting is concerned, everything depends on Iran-G5+1 agreement and those are the two sides who should announce their agreement and inclination to Turkey's hosting," Yardim said.