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Iranian President Proposes Further Nuclear Talks


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (file)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (file)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd in northern Iran further nuclear talks could produce an agreement with international powers. The declaration follows two days of talks in Istanbul that ended without an agreement.

Ahmadinejad suggested further nuclear talks between Iran and top world powers have the potential to result in an agreement. But no new talks are scheduled after discussions with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany in Istanbul Friday and Saturday reached a dead end.

Speaking to a crowd in northern Iran, Ahmadinejad said he foresees "good agreements" resulting from "future meetings" if both sides worked together.

He says important discussions took place in the past two or three sessions of talks, and that both sides are now familiar with the viewpoints of the other. He adds that good agreements can be reached in future sessions if what he calls "the other side" is committed to justice and respect.

Ahmadinejad was careful to stress that Iran has "become a nuclear nation," and warned that no other nation can force it to change course. He also blamed Israel for pressuring the international community over Iran’s nuclear program.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton insisted, after the Istanbul talks, the door remains open for negotiations and the process can go forward if Iran chooses to respond positively.

The talks failed when Iran declared it would not consider freezing uranium enrichment and pushed for international sanctions against it be lifted.

Tehran is subject to four rounds of U.N. economic sanctions for refusing to stop enriching uranium.

Iranian officials insist that their country needs to enrich uranium for civilian purposes. Western states suspect Tehran is covertly attempting to build nuclear weapons.

International Institute for Strategic Studies Analyst Mark Fitzpatrick told the Reuters news agency he does not believe Iran’s top negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was in a position to show flexibility during the talks led by Ashton. He added Iran's position will be "further hindered by additional sanctions" imposed by individual states.

Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington adds President Ahmadinejad must portray himself as a tough negotiator to his domestic audience, so as not to be outflanked by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who wants to weaken him.

"He does not want to have himself sidelined by being depicted by Khamenei's people as the weak one who unpatriotically sold out. I think we should be much more aware of how domestic politics in Iran is manipulating Iran's diplomatic position, because on the surface what the Iranians are doing does not make sense. For them to show up in Istanbul and literally go away with nothing, this cannot be incompetence. So there is something here at play, there is disagreement that they cannot come out and publicly tell us, and the disagreement is rooted in the ambitions of the real players behind the nuclear program and I see it as Ahmadinejad versus Khamenei at this stage."

Vatanka says Ahmadinejad is seeking to create a middle road of populism between reformists and conservatives, and cannot afford to see Iran hurt any further by sanctions.

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