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Nuclear Talks with Iran Collapse

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton speaks to the media after two-day talks between Iran and world powers on Iran's nuclear program at the historical Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, 22 Jan 2011

Talks in Istanbul, Turkey between the international community and Iran over its controversial nuclear program, have ended in failure amid mutual recriminations. The collapse in the talks, is expected to lead to further international pressure on Iran over its nuclear aspirations.

The European Union policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed frustration over the failure of the two days of talks, but said Iran was to blame.

"We had hoped to embark on a discussion of practical ways forward, and have made every effort to make that happen. I am disappointed to say that this has not been possible," she said.

Ashton led a delegation of countries that is known as the P5+1, United States, Britain, Russia , France China, and Germany in negotiations with Iran over its controversial nuclear energy program. It is suspected of using the program to build an atomic bomb, a charge Tehran denies.

The Istanbul meeting follows talks in Geneva. Ashton said the Geneva talks had agreed that the Istanbul meeting would focus on detailed proposals. The two days of talks centered on what is described as confidence building measures which included a deal that Iran would exchange some of its low enriched uranium in exchange for nuclear fuel for Tehran's Research Reactor. Similar agreements had been attempted both in 2009 and 2010 .

But Ashton said Iran had insisted on unacceptable preconditions such as a lifting of United Nations sanctions.

"We had hoped to have a detailed and constructive discussion of those ideas. But it became clear that the Iranian side was not ready for this, unless we agreed to preconditions relating to enrichment and sanctions. Both these preconditions are not the way to proceed," said the EU policy chief.

But the head of the Iranian negotiations - Saeed Jalili - said they approached the Istanbul meeting with good will and wanted a logical approach to the talks, saying their demands weren't unreasonable.

He said, "We must respect international rights and I talked about the rights of people", "these are not preconditions , there are prerequisites."

No date has been set for new talks. but Ashton said it's up to Tehran to change its stance, saying their offer remains on the table. Observers say the collapse in talks is expected to lead to new calls for further international action against Iran. But a senior European official at the talks said it was important to be calm and take a wait and see approach.

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