President Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in Seoul on March 25, 2012. (Anatolian News Agency)Major powers are set to resume high-stakes negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program starting on April 13th or 14th, diplomats said Tuesday. The talks will probably take place in Turkey, although they cautioned discussions were still continuing.
"We're not going to get involved in a silly back and forth over venue," one American official said Tuesday on condition of anonymity, because the talks have not yet been announced. "If the Iranians give us a final yes, expect an announcement shortly."
The extensive discussions and effort required to even settle on a date and locale for the talks are but one sign of the daunting task faced by diplomats trying to reach an actual substantive accord with Iran over its nuclear program. Former Israeli intelligence chief Efraim Halevy warned this week of signs of a wider level of international diplomatic disarray that is ominous.
If the Iran talks fail, there will be "nothing else left" but military action, Halevy told Israeli newspaper the Times of Israel in an interview Sunday. And it's "tragic," Halevy said, that "I don't see any great effort being made" by the so-called P5+1 group--the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Russia and China--to "prepare urgently and effectively" for those talks, the paper reported.
"Talks regarding the venue are under way," Iran Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday, Reuters reported. "Turkey has announced its willingness to host the talks between Iran and major powers, and it seems that P5+1 has welcomed it. This suggestion has also been given to Iran and we are considering it."
President Obama has repeatedly said he wants to give diplomacy a chance to resolve international concerns over Iran's nuclear program, but warned the window to do so is narrow. "There is time to solve this diplomatically, but time is short," Obama said Monday in Seoul, South Korea. "Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands."
The apparent settling on Istanbul as a venue for the talks came after President Obama held a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the Seoul nuclear summit Sunday. Erdogan announced at that meeting that he would be traveling to Iran after Seoul.
The Turkish leader alluded to those discussions when he arrived in Iran Wednesday. "I had consultations in South Korea with Iran's counterpart in the talks," Erdogan said Wednesday in Iran, Reuters reported. "And we are awaiting results of these consultations and their views. Our intention is to help the process of these talks."Read More »from Iran nuclear talks set to resume, diplomats say