ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News) – The Turkish Foreign Ministry has denied claims by a U.S. official who said Ankara had agreed to distance itself from the Iranian nuclear issue, saying it remains open to participating if the parties seek its help.
“The participation of Turkey [in the Iran negotiations] is not necessary, but it is true that Iran wants us in the process. If Turkey is called to participate, we will consider it,” one diplomatic source told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. “However, no one should expect Turkey to stay indifferent to the developments in its region.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Associated Press had quoted an anonymous U.S. official as saying that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had agreed during a phone conversation late Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Turkey would no longer be involved in the Iranian issue.
That claim was denied by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which said Turkey was not part of earlier talks between the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, known as the P5+1, and Iran.
“We have appreciated Turkey’s diplomacy regarding the Iran issue. However, the message given by Clinton during the phone conversation was that it was now time for Iran to contact the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the P5+1 as relevant channels at this point; moreover, everybody should encourage Iran to establish such contact,” the anonymous U.S. official was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
The conversation between Clinton and Davutoglu reportedly covered important international issues, including the Iranian nuclear program.
The P5+1 and the IAEA are pressing Iran to start a new round of talks over Tehran’s nuclear program following the adoption of sanctions at the U.N. Security Council. Turkey and Brazil both voted against the measure and Iran is demanding their participation in any future talks.
The venue and date for such talks remains unknown, as Tehran has introduced a number of pre-conditions to any discussion.
Turkey’s “no” vote on sanctions caused deep frustration in Washington, its NATO ally, which believed that the move further encouraged the Iranian regime in its nuclear ambitions. Turkey, however, said the vote simply aimed to keep Iran at the table for future negotiations.
Brazil and Turkey had brokered a deal on May 17, in which Iran would ship its low-enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged with enriched nuclear fuel rods to power the Tehran research reactor. “Now they will also talk about the enrichment of Iran’s uranium together with the swap issue,” the same diplomatic source that commented on Turkey’s participation told the Daily News.
Iran and the Vienna Group, which includes the U.S., Russia and France, have issued clashing statements over who should participate in the new round of talks.
Iran believes Turkey and Brazil should participate in talks with the Vienna Group within the framework of the May 17 “Tehran Declaration.” Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki told reporters Sunday, “the Vienna Group has also accepted their presence.”
World powers, however, have not formally agreed that Brazil and Turkey can sit in on talks over a nuclear-fuel supply deal with Iran, but neither have they explicitly ruled out such an arrangement, Agence France-Presse reported.
Although Turkey and Brazil offered the May swap deal as an alternative to sanctions, the Security Council proposed a new round of sanctions against Iran the next day. The U.N. sanctions passed in June despite Turkey and Brazil’s “no” votes.
Moscow, Paris and Washington have also expressed reservations about the Turkey-Brazil-brokered deal, asking Iran to clarify a number of questions about the terms. Western powers now hope to negotiate on these issues with Iran in a joint meeting.