ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has denied statements attributed to a US official that Washington requested Turkey to stay out of international efforts to resolve a dispute on Iran’s nuclear program and insisted that Ankara was part of the process.
“Iran is our neighbor in the region. We are involved in matters concerning our region, irrespective of who says what to us,” Davutoglu told reporters at a joint press conference following talks with senior EU officials, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, in Istanbul on Tuesday.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying on Monday that during a telephone conversation with Davutoglu earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Davutoglu to leave Iran’s nuclear dispute to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that Davutoglu agreed.
But Davutoglu dismissed claims that such a request came from the US. “The US has not conveyed to us any such message,” he said. “There can be no process without our participation. … We have the will to carry this process out with better coordination.”
Turkey and Brazil signed an agreement with Iran on May 17, under which it agreed to send 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for uranium enriched up to 20 percent by Russia and France. But the US immediately dismissed the deal and pressed for sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council. The sanctions were despite Turkey’s and Brazil’s “no” vote on the measure.
Despite the sanctions, a new round of talks is expected to begin. Russia and France, both members of the UN Security Council and the Vienna Group of negotiators, have called for talks on the basis of the nuclear swap deal; however, it is not clear whether and how Turkey would be involved. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday that the countries negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program should take the Turkish-Brazilian plan seriously. “Today we stand for conducting technical consultations in Vienna on the basis of the scheme suggested by Turkey and Brazil together with Iran,” he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said this week that the Vienna Group—comprising of the US, France, Russia and the IAEA—had accepted Tehran’s proposal that Turkey and Brazil participate in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program. But there has been no confirmation from Turkey or the Vienna Group so far.
Davutoglu said the Tehran declaration of May 17 was still on the table as a possible basis for future talks, adding that, alternatively, a new process might also begin on the basis of a letter Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, sent to Ashton. Iran said in the letter sent earlier this month that it’s ready for talks on the country’s nuclear program but that the EU must first guarantee there would be no threats against Tehran.
“Turkey will continue to do its best [to support efforts] in both [tracks],” Davutoglu told reporters.
Meeting with Azeri, Armenian Counterparts:
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will hold separate meetings with his Armenian and Azeri counterparts, Eduard Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov, during the OSCE summit in Almaty, Kazakhstan, reported the Hurriyet newspaper.
According to the newspaper, the ministers will discuss the current situation of the Karabakh conflict resolution and the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement process.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry press secretary Tigran Balayan neither confirmed nor denied the information in the Turkish media about the meeting of the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in Almaty.
“No information on the meeting of the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers is available,” Balayan said.