Iran on Saturday blamed world powers for delays in long-stalled talks over its controversial nuclear program, after Western diplomats said Iranian uncertainty over the venue had delayed the negotiations.
State broadcaster IRIB said deputy European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Helga Schmid had asked Iranian deputy nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri on Friday to move the talks from January to February.
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World powers "are not ready to hold the negotiation in January," IRIB quoted Schmid at telling Bagheri by telephone. "She suggested a new date in February."
But “Bagheri stressed that Iran is ready to hold the talks, asking the other party to remain committed to the date agreed for talks in January,” the report added.
European Union diplomats and Iranian officials have been holding discussions for months on arranging a new round of talks.
But according to several EU officials, the Islamic Republic has been stalling on fixing a date and location.
The EU is brokering the talks on behalf of the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany.
The last round of talks was held June, in Russia, and ended with a stalemate, as did those before. Since then, a fresh round of economic sanctions has been imposed on Iran, crippling its economy further.
Earlier in the week, an EU spokesman said that the West "hopes to resume talks with Iran as soon as possible" and is "very flexible" on a venue.
Iran has proposed that "the next meeting be held in Cairo, and it was welcomed by our Egyptian brothers," an Iranian media outlet cited Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying after a cabinet meeting.
An EU source said that "several venues have been proposed… We do not exclude any, but Iran is proposing different venues all the time. The venue is not the issue, but Iran appears to be trying to delay the process by coming up with new conditions."
The nuclear negotiations are aimed at persuading Iran to halt nuclear activities, which the West suspects are aimed at producing nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. Tehran insists that it will not halt uranium enrichment, the most controversial aspect of its nuclear drive, saying it is purely for civilian purposes.
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