Iran foreign minister has dismissed claims by a European Union (EU) spokesman about Tehran killing time in talks with the world powers, saying that the Islamic Republic is always ready for negotiations.
“We have always announced that we are ready for talks until a final result [is reached] and we have never stopped negotiations,” Ali Akbar Salehi, who is in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to take part in the 20th African Union (AU) Summit, told reporters on Monday.
A spokesman for the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday that the P5+1 -- including the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia plus German -- have asked Iran to hold a new round of talks in February but Iran has not agreed.
"Iran did not accept our offer to go to Istanbul on Jan. 28 and 29, and so we have offered new dates in February," Michael Mann told a news briefing in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
Salehi stated that Iran has proposed that Egypt host the talks between Tehran and the P5+1 and Cairo has expressed willingness in this regard. However, he added, the P5+1 seeks to hold negotiations in another place.
Pointing to the six countries’ willingness to negotiate with Tehran in Turkey, the Iranian minister stated, “Turkey is also regarded as one of our best choices.”
He said other countries such as Kazakhstan, Sweden and Switzerland have also expressed readiness to host Iran-P5+1 talks.
Iran and the P5+1 have held several rounds of talks with the focus on Iran’s nuclear energy program. The last round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 was held in Moscow in June 2012.
The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.