ISTANBUL // Iran urged western powers to engage in "purposeful" negotiations yesterday as European Union (EU) and Iranian representatives met in Istanbul in search of a breakthrough on restarting talks over Tehran's nuclear programme.
Pressure to get back to the bargaining table was rising the day after Iran's nuclear chief harshly attacked the integrity of the United Nations's atomic energy organisation and its investigation of allegations Iran is working on nuclear arms.
Fereydoun Abbasi's defiant speech to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) was sure to bolster hardline Israeli views that diplomatic efforts and economic penalties have had no effect on Iran, leaving military strikes as the only alternative.
Yesterday's meeting between the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, follows a round of talks in July in which an attempt was made to restart nuclear negotiations between Tehran and six world powers that fizzled in June.
"Negotiations should be purposeful. Talks for talks would not be effective," said Ramin Mehmanparast, the spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, yesterday. "We can cross the finish line only when the other side enters the talks with real motivation and strong will to solve the issue."
On Monday, Mr Abbasi told the IAEA's 155-nation general conference that "terrorists and saboteurs" might have infiltrated the agency in an effort to detail his nation's nuclear programme, in Tehran's harshest attack on the integrity of the UN organisation. Mr Abbasi said there were two sabotage attempts on his country's nuclear programme.
In Tehran, the director of a private think tank with close links to the government said an agreement between Iran and the western powers could emerge at the talks.
"An implicit, temporary and gradual deal between the two sides will be made," Amir Mousavi, the director of the Centre for Strategic Studies and International. "Both the US and other western countries seek international and regional calm and stability."