Iran, EU negotiators squabble over preparations for Moscow talks

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Western diplomats are expressing some concerns ahead of new P5+1/Iran nuclear talks in Moscow later this month. Among them, Iranian media reports Tuesday claiming that international negotiators have not responded to Iranian requests for preparatory meetings ahead of the Moscow talks, which are scheduled for June 18-19th.

The claim is just not true, a European diplomat said Tuesday.

Iran, in a May 29th letter to EU deputy foreign policy chief Helga Schmid, requested an experts meeting ahead of the Moscow talks, the diplomat told Al Monitor.

Schmid’s office responded to the Iranian request, in a June 4th letter, saying it believes what’s needed now is a meeting among political envoys to advance the diplomatic process,  the diplomat said. The European negotiators proposed a meeting of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, but has yet to get any response.

“We think the issue is political and have proposed a direct Ashton-Jalili contact which they’ve stalled on so far,” the diplomat said.

“We have told them that we need to advance at a political level,” the diplomat said. “We need a clear signal of Iranian readiness to engage on the substance of the E3+3 proposal. An experts meeting won’t do now as we saw when the progress made at lower levels in the run-up to Baghdad did not translate into more at the political level in Baghdad itself. Some things can only be done at a political level.”

Why are the Iranians saying to their press that international negotiators haven’t responded to their request? Western diplomats aren’t sure, but their theories range from misinformation to efforts to shift the blame if the Moscow talks fail.

“Hard to tell which one it is,” the diplomat said. “But we are doing what we can to make this process a success.”It’s not yet clear if Schmid and her Iranian counterpart, Ali Bagheri, will meet face to face ahead of the Moscow talks as they did–twice–before the Baghdad meeting last month.

Meantime, Ashton and European political directors are expected to meet in Strasbourg June 11th, on the sides of a European parliament meeting.

(Photo: European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili pose for the media before their meeting in Baghdad May 23, 2012.    REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani.)

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  1. Pingback: Iran seeks possible delay in Moscow talks | The Back Channel

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