Geneva/Jerusalem, Oct 15 —) Delegates of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany Tuesday started a new round of talks with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme in Geneva even as Israel voiced its opposition to any easing of sanctions on Iran.
The talks between Iran and the P5+1 – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany – represented by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, resumed amid a relatively positive atmosphere, Xinhua reported.
Following the presidential election in Iran in June and a phone conversation between US President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani last month, the first contact between the two countries’ presidents for more than three decades, progress is expected during the two-day talks.
Ashton said in a statement released Monday that she hoped both sides would have “a very productive two days, an opportunity to explore both the proposals that we have put on the table, but also ideas that are coming from Iran”.
“We have come here with cautious optimism but a real sense of determination,” she said. “I hope that, in the course of that time, there will be an opportunity to really go into the details and to explore the possibilities.”
The Iranian delegation is headed by Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif.
Earlier a source in the Iranian delegation told Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that his country put forth to the international mediators absolutely “new proposals” for the resolution of the situation over the country’s nuclear programme.
“This is absolutely new proposals and a new plan,” he said.
“These proposals should not be linked with what had happened at the previous rounds of talks,” the diplomatic source added.
These proposals envisage “the end to the unnecessary crisis and the opening of new horizons”, the source told ITAR-TASS.
Tehran hopes to resolve completely with the international community the situation over the country’s nuclear programme within a year at most.
According to the source, the updated plan envisages gradual resolution of the problem.
“Within six months, a year at most, it is possible to make the problem absolutely not acute and pass it for debates exclusively within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” he said.
Mann in his press conference Tuesday also said that Catherine Ashton had dinner with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif Monday night to discuss the arrangements for Tuesday’s discussions, and the dinner was held in a very positive atmosphere.
While Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is representing Russia, the US is being represented by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
Meanwhile, according to a report from Jerusalem, Israel has called upon world powers not to ease economic sanctions imposed on Tehran maintaining that only such penalties can ensure a genuine diplomatic solution with Iran.
The Israeli security cabinet, which convened late Monday to discuss the upcoming talks of the P5+ 1 nations with Iran, observed that: “Now is an opportune moment to reach a genuine diplomatic solution that peacefully ends Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. However, this could only be realised if the international community continues to put pressure on Iran and not ease the sanctions prematurely.”
“Only sanctions can ensure a genuine diplomatic solution with Iran,” Xinhua cited the security cabinet’s resolution, sent to reporters by the Prime Minister’s Office Tuesday morning, as sating.
“Israel does not oppose Iran having a peaceful nuclear energy programme… peaceful programmes do not require uranium enrichment or plutonium production. Iran’s nuclear weapons programme does,” the cabinet statement said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani repeatedly stressed that the Iranian nuclear programme was meant for peaceful purposes only and has slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “pessimistic” stance.