TEHRAN – Iran is open to holding further talks with six world powers over its nuclear programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday, a day after the failure of the latest round of dialogue in Istanbul.
“They have talked for a few rounds, but we never expected that issues would be resolved during these few sessions because of the record and mentality of the other parties,” the hardliner said in a speech aired live on state television from the northern city of Rasht.
“But if the other side is determined and committed to justice, law and respect, one can hope that suitable results could be achieved in future sessions.”
Talks in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday failed to yield results between Iran and the so-called P5+1 — UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.
The dialogue was aimed at ascertaining whether Iran’s contentious nuclear drive masks a weapons drive as suspected by the West, but staunchly denied by the Islamic republic.
Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency the nuclear programme has grown, said the conditions for “good agreements in future sessions” had been created as both sides have met and got acquainted to each other’s views.
But he charged that “the uncultured Zionists (Israel) and some power-hungry people in Europe and the US are not interested in a good resolution of the issues.”
“I am telling the 5+1 officials that if you want the negotiations to bear results, you should free yourself from the pressure of short-sighted and uncultured people in order to pave the way for further engagement.
“The world should know that this nation stands up to bullying and will put the bullies in their place. You cannot make Iran back down an inch from its course as it is now a nuclear state,” said Ahmadinejad.
During the talks in Istanbul, world powers failed to persuade Iran to take steps to ease suspicions over its nuclear programme as the defiant Islamic republic insisted on uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of the programme.
Iran had set the stage for fierce wrangling as soon as the meeting began Friday, declaring its uranium enrichment work was not up for debate.
Speaking shortly after the end of talks, its chief negotiator Saeed Jalili insisted that Iran’s right to enrich uranium “must be recognised”, stressing that “we are ready for talks, even tomorrow” if the six powers were to accede to the long-standing Iranian demand.
But his counterpart in the Istanbul negotiation, the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the outcome of the latest dialogue had “disappointed” her.
“We had hoped to embark on a discussion of practical ways forward, and have made every effort to make that happen. I am disappointed to say that this has not been possible,” she said after the talks on Saturday, adding that “it remains essential that Iran demonstrates that its nuclear programme is peaceful.”