x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

After row, Iran confirms nuclear talks in Istanbul

If the Istanbul negotiations with the P5+1 group - the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany - on Saturday prove fruitful, another round of talks could be held in Baghdad.

TEHRAN // Iran confirmed yesterday that nuclear talks this week with world powers would take place in Istanbul, dropping public reservations over that city as venue following a sharp-worded row with Turkey.

If the Istanbul negotiations with the P5+1 group - the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany - on Saturday prove fruitful, another round of talks could be held in Baghdad, the office of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said.

"The first round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 will be held on April 14 in Istanbul and a second round will be held in Baghdad" at a date to be mutually agreed, said a statement from the Supreme National Security Council, which Mr Jalili leads.

The confirmation appeared to put an end to Iran's see-sawing position on Istanbul that cast a cloud of doubt over the talks in recent days.

Tehran had at first enthusiastically embraced the Turkish city as the ideal venue for the talks. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, even went as far as to declare that city as the host of the talks.

But last week Iranian officials and politicians suddenly went cold on it, saying Turkey's support of the opposition in Syria - Iran's chief ally - excluded Istanbul as a venue. They proposed Baghdad instead, or possibly Damascus or Beijing.