Iran denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons
Iranian technicians at the Isfahan nuclear facilities in 2005. A new round of talks on Iran's controversial nuclear programme will "most probably" take place in Istanbul, Tehran's foreign minister has said during a visit to Turkey. © Henghameh Fahimi - AFP/File
Iran denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons
AFP
Last updated: January 18, 2012

Iran: Nuclear talks most probably in Istanbul

A new round of talks on Iran's controversial nuclear programme will "most probably" take place in Istanbul, Tehran's foreign minister said during a visit to Turkey Wednesday, Turkish media reported.

"I am not sure, but most probably it will be in Istanbul," Ali Akbar Salehi said, a year after the last round of talks collapsed.

The date will be set in "the near future," Salehi was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

Iranian officials have said Tehran is ready for talks with world powers on its nuclear programme, which the West believes masks a drive to develop atomic weapons.

Tehran insists the nuclear drive is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

In Ankara, Salehi said his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, was in contact with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton.

The negotiations between the Islamic republic and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- were last held in Istanbul in January 2011, but made no progress.

Salehi was due to meet Wednesday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, an embassy spokesman said, adding that political and economic issues would figure high on the agenda, without elaborating.

The Iranian minister would also attend a joint economic committee meeting Wednesday and the next day will meet with Davutoglu over lunch, said the spokesman.

Iran is subject to four rounds of UN sanctions over its nuclear programme. The United States has been spearheading a campaign to squeeze Iran's oil exports to put greater pressure on Tehran's disputed programme.

The European Union is considering other measures that could include an embargo on Iranian oil imports, with foreign ministers to meet on the issue at the end of this month.

Turkey has repeatedly said it is only bound by sanctions decided by the UN Security Council.

Iran provided about 40 percent of Turkey's oil needs in 2011 and its biggest refiner Tupras recently made a deal to purchase nine million tons of crude oil from Tehran.

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