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News | Turkish Foreign Minister: 'I Will Have Good News' after Talks

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

14 Apr 2012 00:55Comments

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JaliliDavutoglu.jpg 12:55 a.m. IRDT, 26 Farvardin/April 14 On Friday, the day before talks take place in Istanbul between Iran and the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany -- Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary-general of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Following the meeting, Davutoglu announced, "After the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, I will have good news."

Ali Bagheri, Jalili's deputy at the SNSC, met with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Ja Osho in Istanbul as well. According to a report from the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Osho told Bagheri that "it is essential to reduce the hostile attitudes and actions against Iran." Bagheri also met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riyabkov, who said on Friday that he does not have access to any "compelling documents indicating [any] military nature to Iran's nuclear program." He added, "According to information that I currently have, it is out of the question now to conclude that Iran's nuclear program is fully peaceful, but that is completely different from saying that such activities have military dimensions." Riyabkov also told ISNA, "I am optimistic about the upcoming negotiations," and expressed hope that the talks on Saturday will lead to further ones, until an agreement is reached. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also declared that Moscow is optimistic about the outcome of Saturday's talks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi spoke over the phone to his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt. Emphasizing that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, Salehi told Bildt, "Iran will propose constructive initiatives in the upcoming talks and hopes for a positive reaction from the other side."

In an op-ed item published by the Washington Post on Friday, Salehi declared that Iran does not want nuclear weapons: "Forty-five years ago, the United States sold my country a research reactor as well as weapons-grade uranium as its fuel. Not long afterward, America agreed to help Iran set up the full nuclear fuel cycle along with atomic power plants. The U.S. argument was that nuclear power would provide for the growing needs of our economy and free our remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals. That rationale has not changed." Salehi continued,

We have strongly marked our opposition to weapons of mass destruction on many occasions. Almost seven years ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a binding commitment. He issued a religious edict -- a fatwa -- forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. Our stance against weapons of mass destruction, which is far from new, has been put to the test. When Saddam Hussein attacked us with chemical arms in the 1980s, we did not retaliate with the same means. And when it comes to our nuclear energy program, the IAEA has failed to find any military dimension, despite an unprecedented number of man-hours in intrusive inspections.

A key aspect of entering a conversation based on mutual respect is recognizing the other side's concerns as equal to one's own. To solve the nuclear issue, the scope of the upcoming talks [...] must be comprehensive. The concerns of all sides must be addressed. Complex matters that have been left unaddressed for decades cannot be solved overnight. Another sign of mutual respect is a willingness and readiness to both give and take, without preconditions. This form of reciprocity is distinct from approaches that involve only taking. Most important, and this cannot be stressed enough, is that dialogue must be seen as a process rather than an event. A house can burn to the ground in minutes but takes a long time to build. Similarly, trust can easily and rapidly be broken, but it takes a long time to build.

Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and father-in-law of his son Mojtaba Khamenei, said that the new round of nuclear negotiations is different from those in the past: "Both sides have [adopted] a moderate tone this time and use a more moderate and respectful language, and in the run-up to the negotiations the atmosphere seems calmer this time." This might be part of an attempt by Khamenei and his supporters to gradually prepare the Iranian public for compromise.

Perhaps indirectly related to what Haddad Adel said, Mashregh News, the website close to the ultra-hardliners in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, published a profile of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who will be the chief U.S. negotiator at the Istanbul talks. The profile, whose tone was unusually mild, pointed out that Sherman also led the nuclear negotiations with North Korea during the Clinton administration, and that she is known in diplomatic circles as the "door opener."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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