- Title: SPAIN: Iran, EU end talks in Madrid without breakthrough
- Date: 1st June 2007
- Summary: (BN11) MADRID, SPAIN (MAY 31, 2007) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL IN MADRID WHERE SOLANA PREPARED FOR MEETING WITH LARIJANI SPANISH / US FLAGS
- Reuters ID: LVA9KTJSQU2ADN4RJ26V7IERX37U
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Duration: 00:00:09
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: Iran's chief negotiator Ali Larijani and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana fail to reach a breakthrough on the Iranian nuclear deadlock but the two say they would meet again soon.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the European Union began in a 17-century palace outside Madrid on Thursday (May 31) with a hand shaking between Iran nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and EU Foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The meeting looked like a last stab at easing a stand-off over Iran's atomic activity before world powers act to sharpen U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
No-one held out hope for a breakthrough after both sides reaffirmed what seemed irreconcilable positions.
Major powers are insisting that Iran suspend uranium enrichment as a precondition for negotiations on trade benefits.
Larijani on Wednesday (May 30) ruled out a nuclear halt as demanded by the U.N. Security Council, offering only to assure its programme is not a disguised bid for bombs as the West suspects.
The Islamic Republic, which has the world's second largest oil and gas reserves, says it wants a nuclear energy industry solely as an alternative source of electricity.
Talks between Solana and Larijani were expected to concentrate on a dispute that has saddled Iran with two sets of U.N. sanctions.
Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations, meeting in Germany on Wednesday, expressed "deep regret" Iran had kept on expanding enrichment activities and held out the prospect of harsher sanctions.
After the talks, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters said the confrontation will be discussed in the G8 meeting of world leaders in Germany but was doubtful that a compromise could be reached.
"If the situation continues probably the agreement will be complicated. Therefore we must make an effort today to see if we can move, as I said before, to pave the way in order to get to formal negotiations," he said.
After two hours of discussions, Solana and Larijani kept talking on a 45-minute walk in the estate gardens. Asked if the meeting had been constructive so far, Larijani told Reuters: "Yes, not bad."
During a joint news conference later on Thursday, Larijani and Solana said they had held constructive talks but Larijani said a suspension of Iran's nuclear programme was out of the question.
Solana and Larijani will meet again in about two weeks, they told reporters at the conclusion of their meeting in Madrid.
"We have discussed all the issues that we had to discuss and we have put some new ideas and we are going to continue discussing. As I said before, we have a meeting, a contact probably of our deputies in a week and we will have a meeting between ourselves in two weeks," Solana said.
Larijani said there had been a "useful" exchange of ideas which can be built on.
Solana said the demand for Iranian nuclear suspension remains of "great importance."
"There are people that have made the statements in different directions. As you know this is an issue which we think is of great importance for us," Solana said.
But Larijani says the question of Iranian nuclear suspension is out of the question.
"I think you the media people are more interested in suspension than we as politicians," Larijani said in response to a question if suspension was likely.
"We are relinquishing the idea but you are sticking to it, I don't understand why," said Larijani who smiled after finishing his statement.
Security Council resolution 1747 gave Tehran a 60-day deadline to freeze all enrichment, a process of refining uranium for power plants or, if enriched to a very high degree, weapons.
Iran ignored the deadline, which expired last week.
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