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ALMA-ATA, April 5 (Itar-Tass) – Another round of negotiations on the settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue with the participation of the delegations of Iran and the international “six” group (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) has started in Alma-Ata.
Taking part in the meeting are the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, as well as the political directors of the “six” Foreign Ministries. The Russian side is represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The American delegation is led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
During the previous round of talks on February 26-27, which also took place in Alma-Ata, the group of “five plus one” offered Tehran softening of imposed economic sanctions in exchange for limiting nuclear activities. At the current meeting the countries of the “six” expect to hear the reaction of the Islamic Republic to the proposals.
An American government expert told journalist on the eve of the meeting that the US side hopes that Iran will give a concrete, meaningful and detailed answer, which will make it possible to continue the work (on the problem settlement). Ashton made a similar statement. The head of European diplomacy also said that she looks at the meeting in Kazakhstan with cautious optimism.
Jalili stated for his part Tehran’s right to enrich uranium should be recognised at the negotiations round. “We hope that they (the “six”) tomorrow will open the talks with a new phase – with the recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium,” said the head of the Iranian delegation delivering a speech at the University of Kazakhstan. Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that Iran’s nuclear program is an internal affair of the country. Thus, the positions of the talks’ participants at this stage have not become closer. The Russian Foreign Ministry also noted this. “So far, the parties in the negotiating process, unfortunately, have not started the movement towards compromise agreements,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. “The exchange of ideas, considerations and approaches has become deeper, already at a good professional level, and it is pleasing,” but “the process has not yet entered the stage of working out the solutions to the existing problems,” the diplomat emphasised.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed the hope that during the Alma-Ata round of negotiations, the parties would manage to advance “towards compromise agreements.”