EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is representing the P5+1 in dealings with Iran, and Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili both spoke about the substance of talks on Saturday during a press conference following meetings between the two sides in İstanbul. Representatives of both sides had expressed that Saturday's meeting was focused on confidence-building in order to develop a final solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Both sides have underscored the Iranian right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy would be respected. They also underscored that Saturday's talks were a very important step toward a final solution and that they were being held in a far more constructive environment than the first round of nuclear talks in January of 2011.
The talks were the first between the two sides in 14 months. İstanbul had been venue for the first round as well, but no breakthrough was achieved then. Baghdad was announced as the venue for the next round of talks, scheduled for May 23, where a final solution will be discussed, both sides announced.
“The proposal we have is designed to put forth a framework for how we will go on. Our clear objective was learning whether Iran is serious, and we set out today that this is the case,” said Ashton, adding that both sides agreed that a nuclear non-proliferation treaty was a “key basis” for further talks.
Ashton indicated that the talks were mainly based on Iran fulfilling its international obligations, such as allowing international inspection of its nuclear facilities. “We followed a step-by-step approach, based on reciprocity during the talks, which were highly beneficial for laying the grounds for a more comprehensive program based on resolution of the problem,” she added.
Meanwhile, Jalili upheld the importance of measures intended to build confidence and trust with Iran in order for a viable solution to be achieved. “In order to have a successful negotiation period, a different approach should be tried instead of implementing sanctions and using threatening language,” Jalili said.
He dismissed claims that Iran has rejected bilateral talks with the US envoy during negotiations. “Our only bilateral meeting was with the Russian side. We have met with the rest of the representatives in inter-delegational talks,” Jalili explained.
Jalili also stated that regional issues, including the much-debated situation in Syria, were discussed during talks. “We discussed many issues that require cooperation [between Iran and other countries], including the Syrian issue,” he elaborated. “We certainly have a common approach with other countries regarding the Syrian issue.”
He underscored that free elections in which the Syrian people decide for themselves is the only option, ruling out any kind of foreign intervention in the crisis as a way to provide a solution.