Iran Nuclear Talks to Resume in April Backed by Erdogan

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said today that negotiations over the country’s controversial nuclear program will resume next month.

Salehi, who spoke to reporters as he welcomed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran, said that April 13 has been set as the date for the next nuclear talks, and the location will be announced “in days.”

Iran, at loggerheads with the U.S. and its allies over its nuclear activities, is coming under increasing pressure with the piling up of international economic, financial and energy measures against it. A European oil ban on Iranian crude oil imports is set to start on July 1.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi today, Erdogan said that “so long” as Iran’s nuclear energy projects has peaceful purposes, “no one has the right to impose sanctions,” Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkey is keen to bring a “positive contribution” to the process, Erdogan said according to Anatolia. Turkish officials have earlier offered to host the talks.

During his two-day trip, Erdogan will also meet with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The U.S. and the EU accuse Iran of seeking to develop atomic weapons under cover of its nuclear program. Iran rejects the claim, saying it needs the technology to secure energy for its growing population and for medical research.

World Powers

Iran last held nuclear meetings with world powers in Turkey in January 2011. The talks with the so-called P5+1 broke down without any commitments to hold future negotiations. The 5+1 countries are the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members -- the U.S., the U.K., China, France and Russia -- plus Germany.

Erdogan met with President Barack Obama on March 25 in Seoul, where he attended a summit meeting on nuclear security. Erdogan told the U.S. leader about his Iran travel plans and said he would press the Iranian government to halt its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.

Salehi said today that his country and Turkey have “differences” on Syria though they are working on reaching common ground, according to IRNA.

Erdogan is heading a delegation that includes Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as well as Turkey’s energy minister, economy minister and minister of environment and urban development, Iran’s state-run Fars news agency reported. Erdogan will be traveling to the northeastern city of Mashhad late today, the Iranian state-run Mehr news agency said.

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