Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, met with Iranian officials in what was billed as an attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis over Iran's nuclear program. But Iranian officials from President Ahmadinejad to Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki appear to be saying different things.
The Turkish foreign minister's diplomatic initiative in Tehran appears to have provoked a confused reaction from Iranian officials, adding to the already inconsistent response to the original U.N. draft nuclear deal proposed last November.
Iran missed an international deadline to accept the deal at the end of last month and has been sending out contradictory statements about the issue for weeks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki began the day with bluster, attacking the United States and Secretary of State Clinton for calling Tehran a "military dictatorship," and complaining about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
On Monday, France, Russia and the United States denied a statement by Iran's Atomic Energy Agency head Ali Akbar Salehi that the three Western powers had given Iran a new nuclear proposal.
But Foreign Minister Muttaki insisted Iran had indeed received a letter from France, Britain and Russia, and interpreted, according to his translation of the letter, that a new offer was being made.
Later, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent out more conflicting signals as he fielded questions from journalists. "If anybody seeks to create problems for Iran," he said, "our response will not be like before." He said something will be done that will "make them regret" their move.
But after the rhetoric, the Iranian president indicated negotiations between Iran and the West over the U.N. draft nuclear deal have not ended and Tehran is still seeking to buy 20-percent-enriched uranium.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been visiting U.S. allies in the Middle East, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to seek stronger sanctions against Iran.
Analyst Ali Nourizadeh of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London says he believes the Turkish foreign minister told Tehran to accept the nuclear deal.
"I think the Turkish foreign minister advised the Iranians to grab the opportunity based on what the Turks witnessed in Qatar, with Mrs. Clinton talking to Qataris and then to the Saudis. So, he advised the Iranians to accept the offer, because the day after tomorrow there will not be any offer and the sanctions will go ahead. Even as far as China is concerned, I think the Americans convinced the Saudis and Qataris to provide China with the energy they need in order to reduce their dependency on Iranian crude," Nourizadeh said.
Royal Canadian Military College Professor Hooshang Hassanyari believes Iran's leaders are trying to divert attention from the ongoing political crisis in the country.
"Under pressure, they say they agree with this, they are going to do it, and when the pressure is lessened, they simply refuse to do what they promised to do ... This double-language, having contradictory declarations on the nuclear issue, is purposely done by the Iranian leadership that way to drag their feet and distract the international community from a real problem in Iran, and that is the human-rights violations," Hassanyari said.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad continued to haggle over fine points in a press conference, insisting a nuclear exchange with the West must be "simultaneous," reiterating an Iranian position that caused the impasse over the deal, weeks ago.