BRUSSELS, 13 Dec. (IPS) First round of sensitive talks between Iran in trhe one side, Britain, France and Germany on the other ended here on Monday with the Head of Iranian delegation announcing the opening of a “new chapter” in relations between the two sides.
“Our will is to advance the talks step by step in order to reach a new chapter in bilateral relations, therefore, the discussions here in Brussels would not be limited to nuclear issues only”, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani told waiting journalists.
The talks had started in the afternoon at the British delegation in the Belgian Capital with the participation of Jack Straw, Michel Barnier and Joschka Fischer, foreign ministers of the European Union’s three main powers facing Mr. Rohani and Mr. Xavier Solana, the EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Minister.
Confidence building is possible by deepening relationship and mutual understanding.
“Confidence building is possible by deepening relationship and mutual understanding. If the two sides continue in the path with goodwill, then one can say for sure that a new chapter has been open in the relations between Iran and Europe”, Mr. Rohani, who is both Iran’s top negotiator on the his country’s controversial nuclear issue and Secretary of Supreme Council on National Security added.
For their part, the European ministers observed that their present round of negotiations is a follow up to agreements reached on 21 November 2003 in Tehran and on 15 November 2004 in Paris as well as the resolution the international nuclear watchdog passed on 29 November in Vienna, all calling on Iran to suspend activities related to enriching uranium.
“Despite some obstacles, the two sides are committed to fulfil their prior engagements and in doing so, some progress has been registered”, Mr. Straw pointed out without emphasising.
But analysts noted that as the European Troika was talking to the Iranian delegation in Brussels, in Tehran, Mr. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, the official spokesman for the Government of Mr. Mohammad Khatami repeated Iran’s demand for running several dozens of centrifuges for so-called Research and Development purposes.
That demand first surfaced at the beginning of the last meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors on 25 November 2004 and was immediately rejected by the European Trio, which, in return, urged Tehran to renounce to the request in an official letter or face sanctions.
The Islamic Republic obliged after a delay of two days, paving the way for the 35 directors to pass a resolution that helped Tehran escape sanctions from the United Nations Security Council, as demanded by the United States.
To show its displeasure with the ongoing talks in Brussels and its determination to keep Iran under maximum pressures, Washington, despite favourable notes from the European Union, again opposed on Monday Iran’s demand to join the World Trade Organization.
But the Geneva-based WTO accepted a similar bid from Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran’s neighbours on the East and West.
“The problem of Iran’s nuclear activity is clear from a legal and technical point of view. Our aim is to establish confidence through political means in order that there will be no concern left for anyone", Mr. Rohani told the joint press conference, referring to the United States and Israel, the two nations that forcefully suspect the ruling Iranian ayatollahs to seek nuclear weapons by diverting the atomic technology for peaceful purposes into military uses.
British Foreign Secretary who hosted the 90-minute meeting said a key aim of the talks would be "to provide objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear program can only be used for peaceful purposes".
“Iran would have to respect the spirit as well as the letter of the agreement”, he added.
In an effort to build confidence, Mr. Rohani confirmed that the suspension of uranium enriching activities is taking place in accordance with the Paris Agreements.
To show its displeasure with the ongoing talks in Brussels and its determination to keep Iran under maximum pressures, Washington again opposed Iran’s demand to join the World Trade Organization.
“We had such suspensions in the past, but what is new in the present move is that is has created a new atmosphere in Iran’s relations with Europe, one that would allow us to continue with more serious and expanded talks”, he said.
"As long as the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment is in force, our undertakings are valid", the German Foreign Minister said, adding, "We must move forward step-by-step on the basis of realism".
Observers said while the Europeans hope to turn the suspension of Iran's nuclear activities into a permanent process, Iran wants quick results in its talks with Europe and reach accords on trade, security and advanced nuclear technologies.
“The extent of progress within three months would have a significant impact on the continuation of the initiative, the Iranian negotiator said, adding that the three working groups envisaged by the Patris Agreement would began their first session at the Iranian Embassy immediately after the ministerial meeting, tasked with reaching first concrete results within three months.
“The positive outcome and success of the talks will benefit the both sides as well as the entire region, he said, adding that, vice-versa, the failure of the negotiations will also be felt by all”, he had stated on Sunday on his departure for Brussels, stressing that Iran would continue the talks “if we feel that they are progressing, we would continue the talks, if not, we shall end them”. ENDS IRAN TROIKA 131204