Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi suggested China and Iraq as potential venues for nuclear talks between his country and world powers this month.
“There were talks of holding the negotiations in Baghdad or in China and this matter has a course and needs to be agreed by all the parties,” Salehi said today in Tehran, according to the state-run Mehr news agency. “Istanbul was our initial proposal. The Europeans first rejected it and then agreed. Parallel to this, we had other countries in mind.”
Salehi’s comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on March 31 that negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany will be held on April 13-14 in Istanbul.
The last talks, held in Turkey in January 2011, broke down without any commitments to hold another round. European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said at the time that Iran demanded UN sanctions be lifted before substantive discussions about its nuclear work could begin.
“The content of the talks is more important than the venue or date of the meeting,” Salehi told reporters today. “The upcoming talks will be better than the previous ones and will allow for steps forward.”
Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes, while the U.S. and its allies accuse the government of seeking to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Israel has threatened a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities to forestall that development, and the U.S. says it hasn’t ruled out the use of force against the country.