25 May 2012
by Daniel Mason
Fresh nuclear talks between six world powers and Iran will be held in Moscow next month after two days of negotiations failed to resolve the international community's concerns over Iran's nuclear programme.
European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said this week's discussions in Baghdad had been "very intense" and successfully built "some common ground". But she acknowledged that "significant differences" remained and said that a new set of talks would be held in the Russian capital on June 18 and 19.
Ashton leads the so-called P5+1 group of nations that includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States. They want Iran to end its 20 per cent uranium enrichment activity and allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into the country.
Both sides laid out their own separate proposals at the meeting, with Iran asking for economic sanctions that isolate the country to be lifted in return for making concessions.
"We expect Iran to take concrete and practical steps to urgently meet the concerns of the international community, to build confidence and to meet its international obligations," Ashton said, adding that following the "in-depth" talks it was "clear that we both want to make progress".
She said the Moscow meeting would aim to "expand that common ground" and reiterated that the P5+1 was "united in seeking a swift diplomatic resolution" to the issue.
Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili maintained that uranium enrichment and a peaceful nuclear energy programme were Iran's "right". The talks in Baghdad were the second set this year following a meeting in Istanbul in April.
Earlier this week it was reported that UK government ministers had discussed the potential legal implications of military action against Iran. The National Security Council was told that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely lead to a wider war in the Middle East and the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil supply route.
This article first appeared on sister site PublicServiceEurope.com