Davutoglu's shuttle diplomacy pushes for resumption of Iranian nuke talks
Thanks to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's efforts, nuclear talks between Iran and the West are soon set to restart despite a new round of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council for Tehran's controversial nuclear program. Undermining a nuclear fuel deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil with Iran in May, new UN sanctions pushed by the US and other veto-wielding powers of the Security Council brought nuclear talks with Iran to a standstill. Davutoglu had separate talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki earlier this week, and it was agreed that talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) would restart in September. During his meetings with Ashton and Mottaki, Davutoglu suggested that Turkey be the venue of the planned talks between Ashton and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili. Mottaki recently called for Brazil and Turkey to be included in the coming talks, but it is not yet clear what shape that involvement would take. Speaking at a joint press conference following talks with senior European Union officials in Istanbul on Tuesday, including Ashton and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule, Davutoglu said the Tehran declaration of May 17 was still on the table as a possible basis for future talks, adding that, alternatively, a new process might also begin on the basis of a letter Jalili sent to Ashton earlier this month. Iran said in the letter that it's ready for talks on the country's nuclear program but that the EU must first guarantee that there would be no threats against Tehran. Before leaving Lisbon on Wednesday following an official bilateral visit, Davutoglu held a lengthy bilateral meeting with Mottaki, who was also on an official visit to Portugal. Following their meeting, Davutoglu said, "I shared with Mr. Mottaki matters regarding how the process concerning Iran will function from now on." Turkey wants negotiations on the nuclear issue to start in the shortest time possible, he said, adding, "We are holding talks so that dialogue can be started at once and we encourage all parties regarding this." At almost the same time Davutoglu was delivering these remarks, Reuters reported that the EU has told Iran it welcomes a proposal to resume dialogue as early as September but says talks must focus on Tehran's nuclear energy program. Welcoming Iran being prepared to restart dialogue, Ashton said in her reply to Jalili that EU and Iranian officials should discuss a time and place for a meeting.