Laura Rozen and Reuters are reporting that the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany — have invited Iran to resume talks over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
The invitation is for talks to be held in Vienna for three days in mid-November, according to a statement from the spokesperson of the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“Following recent positive indications from Iran that [chief Iranian negotiator Saeed] Jalili is willing to meet High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of the E3+3/P5+1 — — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — High Representative Ashton today officially proposed to Iran that these talks should take place over three days in mid November,” the spokesperson said, according to Rozen’s foreign policy blog at Politico.
The “positive indications” were apparently comments that Jalili had made in the press.
Reuters notes that while Jalili had sent a letter to Ashton over the summer requesting the talks, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has since set additional conditions on negotiations, including adding additional participants, making some participants declare their hostility to Iran, and making them state their positions on Israel’s covert nuclear arsenal. However, Reuters was unable to secure a current comment from Ahmadinejad, who is traveling in Lebanon today.
Rozen also laid out some differences in the approaches of the two main parties — the U.S. and Iran:
Iran observers and diplomats have said that Iran prefers to hold talks with an expanded version of the so-called Vienna Group, comprised of the U.S., France and Russia, with which it had previously negotiated a possible nuclear fuel swap deal that broke down, than with the P5+1.
The U.S. is putting more attention on possible international P5+1 Iran nuclear talks, while envisioning a second track of lower-profile technical consultations between the Vienna Group and Iran on a possible updated fuel swap deal.
As Eli previously reported, the P5+1 has supported the Vienna Group fuel swap deal, brokered a year ago in Geneva, over the Turkish and Brazilian mediated Tehran Declaration deal. Iran favors the latter deal, which even some eminent U.S. foreign policy figures have called a good “first step.”