x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Iran floats Cairo as a venue for nuclear talks with world powers

Egypt reportedly agrees to host the talks and is meeting representatives from the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany to see if they accept.

TEHRAN // Iran today proposed Cairo as the venue for the next talks with world powers on its disputed nuclear drive, adding that the Egyptians have welcomed the idea, the ISNA news agency reported.

Iran has proposed that "the next meeting be held in Cairo, and it was welcomed by our Egyptian brothers", it cited the foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying after a cabinet meeting.

"Egypt is consulting with the 5+1," he said the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France plus Germany.

Mr Salehi said "consultations are under way between [Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed] Jalili and Catherine Ashton", the EU foreign policy chief who represents the P5+1 in nuclear talks with Iran.

"The date and venue of the talks will be announced by the Supreme National Supreme Council" which oversees the nuclear negotiations, he said.

At the most recent talks, in Moscow last June, Tehran rejected P5+1 calls for it to scale back its uranium enrichment activities, while also asking for relief from sanctions that began to bite in 2012.

The West, spearheaded by the United States and Israel, accuses Tehran of working towards acquiring atomic weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear programme, a charge Iran vehemently denies.

Iran refuses to halt uranium enrichment, the most controversial aspect of its nuclear drive, saying it is purely for civilian purposes.

Tehran has been slapped by multiple sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to stop enrichment. The US and the EU have also imposed additional sanctions aimed at convincing Tehran to come clean about its nuclear ambitions.