Iran, rebuffed in request for experts meeting, may seek delay in Moscow talks

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Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on Wednesday wrote European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton complaining that she had rebuffed Iran’s request for an experts meeting ahead of a new round of nuclear talks scheduled for Moscow June 18-19th, Iran’s IRNA news agency reports. The letter is the latest sign of trouble for the diplomatic process and added to signs Iran may be seeking to delay the meeting.

Jalili’s letter “said that the EU failure to arrange experts meeting led by deputies of the negotiators to draft agenda of the talks created an atmosphere of doubt and ambiguity for success of the Moscow talks,” IRNA wrote.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran in light of bright logic and distinctive initiatives wants to advance the nuclear talks toward cooperation,” Jalili’s letter said, according to IRNA.

“As far as we’re concerned, Moscow goes ahead,” a Western diplomat told Al Monitor Thursday.

European diplomats earlier told Al Monitor that Iran had sought an experts meeting ahead of the Moscow negotiations, but that the EU had written back Monday asserting its contention that what was needed now was not more technical-level discussions but a meeting among political envoys.

“I am not saying technical issues are irrelevant,” a European diplomat told Al Monitor Thursday.

“We need Iran to engage seriously on the substantial proposal we have put forward” in Baghdad, he continued, “as this is a political decision for them to make that cannot be solved at a technical level. We cannot be drawn into long procedural and protocol discussions without substance for the sake of buying time.”

International negotiators “offered an experts’ meeting in Baghdad to Jalili to explain [the proposal] in more detail, but they [then] refused to have an experts’ meeting on substance,” he added.

European negotiators have, since Baghdad, proposed phone contact between deputy negotiators Helga Schmid and Ali Bagheri, “but have heard nothing,” he said.  Continue reading