Sat, April 14, 2012
World > Middle East

Iran, P5+1 start nuclear talks in Istanbul

2012-04-14 08:20:31 GMT2012-04-14 16:20:31(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

ISTANBUL, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Six world powers started crucial talks with Iran on its nuclear program here on Saturday.

The talks between Iran and the United Nations Security Council' s five permanent members plus Germany (P5+1), were held at Istanbul Convention Center in a bid to pressure Iran to suspend its controversial nuclear program.

The Iranian team was led by Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, while delegations of the six world powers were headed by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The two main negotiators shook hands and posed for picture taking as the talks began, showing a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

The nuclear talks are closed to the press. About 600 journalists from different countries are covering the important event.

The world powers have spearheaded the diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to rein in its nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is purely peaceful, while the United Nations and Western leaders suspect of its military purposes.

Under the background of international sanctions and threat of military strikes by the United States and Israel, Iran suggested last week that it could reduce its production of 20-percent enriched uranium as a concession to be made during the talks. However, it is unclear now whether the proposal is still on the table.

Jalili said earlier this week that his team intended to bring some "new initiatives" to the talks.

The United States and its Western allies are expected to demand an immediate closure of the Fordo nuclear facility in central Iran and a freeze on the 20-percent uranium enrichment.

Iran earlier suggested the venue of the talks be moved from Istanbul to Iraq's Baghdad or a Chinese city due to its dispute with Turkey over the Syrian crisis. The last minute call for a change angered Turkey, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Iranian officials of dishonesty.

Saturday's talks came about 15 months after the last negotiations, which were held in Istanbul in January 2011, failed to reach any agreement.

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