WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday put the burden on Iran to close the gaps with the United States and five other world powers in talks over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
Iran and the six powers closed two days of “very intense” nuclear talks in Baghdad Thursday with little to show except an agreement to meet again next month in Moscow after sharp disagreements over the way forward.
The talks that also involve Britain, France, Germany as well as Russia and China “were serious,” Clinton said during a press conference with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully.
“They were an opportunity for the (six powers) to engage on substantive matters with the Iranians but there are clearly gaps in what each side sees as possible,” Clinton said.
“We think that the choice is now Iran’s to work close the gaps,” the chief US diplomat added.
“We anticipate there will be ongoing work between now and the next meeting in Moscow but it’s very clear that there is a lot of work still do,” she said.
“But at the same time I have to say this is the second of two serious meetings after a gap of at least 15 months where there was no contact and no discussion about any of these matters,” Clinton said.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, representing the six powers at the talks in Baghdad, said afterward it was “clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground. However, significant differences remain.”
The parties would meet again in Moscow on June 18-19, Ashton announced.
“We remain determined to resolve this problem in the near term through negotiations, and will continue to make every effort to that end,” she said.
Ashton had on behalf of the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — laid out a new package of proposals that appeared to alarm the Iranians.
These reportedly included Iran suspending enrichment of uranium to 20-percent purities — for the six powers, the most worrying part of Tehran’s activity and the crunch issue, since it shortens the theoretical time needed to develop the bomb.
But the offer went down badly with Tehran since it did not offer in return any relief from crippling sanctions sought by Iran.
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