Turkey calls on Iran to be transparent in nuclear imbroglio

March 03, 2012, Saturday/ 22:56:00/ ALYSON NEEL

Turkey has called on Iran to be more transparent after Tehran failed to address the West's mounting fears that it is secretly bent on acquiring nuclear weapon capability and demanded the Islamic republic to work in sync with international institutions.

Turkish Finance Minister Ali Babacan, during a press conference on Friday, said the only way out of Iran’s perennial nuclear standoff is diplomacy and warned that any other scenario will have a disastrous impact on the region.

His remarks illustrated a prevailing sense of atmosphere reigned in Ankara, where Turkish officials largely believe nuclear talks between Iran and major powers must resume to resolve the international standoff concerning the country’s suspected nuclear program.

Under crippling sanctions that threaten to put Iran’s economy in shambles, Iran said last month it wanted to resume talks on its nuclear program. Any future talks will be held in İstanbul and Turkish officials speculate they could resume in April.

Babacan, who is also deputy prime minister, was talking at the opening ceremony of the second edition of the Aspen Institute Italia’s international “Aspen Bosphorus Dialogue” conference, focusing on tumultuous economic and political issues of the region.

Babacan, Vice President and Commissioner for Competition of the European Commission Joaquin Almunia, and Chairman of Aspen Institute Italia inaugurated the two-day conference, organized in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the İstanbul Policy Center at Sabancı University, the Economic Research Forum of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) and Koç University, and expressed their hopes and general objectives for the conference.

Babacan said the conference delegates will discuss Iran, one of the most acute political crises in the region. He stressed the importance of resolving the conflict with Iran and its nuclear program through diplomatic methods. “If there is a military intervention, it will have negative consequences not only for the region but for the entire world."

“If we don’t solve this, no one will benefit. All will lose,” he said. “Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy,” he emphasized.

Days prior to US President Barack Obama’s crucial talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said in an interview published on Friday that "all options are on the table" for dealing with Iran's controversial nuclear program and added that the final option was the "military component."

Speaking about the future of the eurozone, Almunia, acknowledging Europe was neither prepared for the economic crisis nor how to cope with its aftermath, said the topics to be discussed at the conference are “at the core of the economic and political concerns Europe is trying to tackle.”

“While we have seen Europe take positive steps in the first two months of this year, it is only the beginning,” Babacan added.

The first session of the conference, which is closed to the public, discussed the challenges of and the solutions to the economic crisis sweeping the eurozone. Saturday’s session will focus on the rise of political Islam and other political developments in the region.

Among the conference’s many attendees are senior diplomats, journalists and business and political leaders from Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Tunis and Turkey.

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