In talks with Russia, Turkey urges Iran for nuke assurances

In talks with Russia, Turkey urges Iran for nuke assurances

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu, met in İstanbul.

January 21, 2011, Friday/ 17:51:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called on Iran to offer assurances that it won’t seek nuclear weapons, while, however, underlining that all countries have the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Davutoğlu’s remarks came on Thursday at a joint press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as İstanbul will today host a new round of nuclear negotiations between six world powers and Tehran.

For his part, Lavrov said world powers should hold out the possibility of rolling back sanctions in talks with Iran over its nuclear program, while also urging Iran to allow inspection of its nuclear sites.

“If we can agree on the perspectives for future talks, this will be a good result,” Lavrov said, speaking through a translator. “The approach of Russia and the other participants is that the focus of the debate ought to be Iran’s nuclear program and resolving the unresolved problems in this program. But this meeting doesn’t have just one topic. Cancelling the sanctions against Iran should also be discussed,” Lavrov said.

Iranian negotiators, meanwhile, said they had no fresh offer to make for a nuclear fuel swap when they meet six world powers on Friday.

The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV news channel reported on Tuesday Iran would propose a revised version of a deal that was agreed in principle at a 2009 round of talks but then unraveled. But Iranian officials said there were no such plans.

“I haven’t heard about it,” Ali Bagheri, a deputy to Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, told Reuters as the Iranian delegation arrived in İstanbul on Thursday. Another Iranian official said: “There is no new proposal. This is something created by the Western media. Why should we propose such a thing?”

‘Visa deal with Russia soon to be finalized’

Davutoğlu also announced on Thursday that a long-awaited bilateral agreement for lifting visa requirements between Turkey and Russia will be finalized in the coming months on the occasion of an intergovernmental meeting between the Black Sea neighbors. Last year, the presidents and prime ministers of the two countries agreed to mutually lift visa requirements, Davutoğlu said while speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov after the two co-chaired the first meeting of the Joint Strategic Planning Group as part of preparations for an upcoming meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council between Russia and Turkey -- an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism.

“Within this framework, the Readmission Agreement has already been signed and, God willing, with all legal procedures being completed, the visa agreement will finally be signed in the coming months during the High-Level Cooperation Council meeting that will be held in Moscow,” Davutoğlu said, calling the planned deal “a historic step.”

The issue of lifting visa requirements had first come to the agenda during talks between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during an official visit by the former to Moscow in January 2010. Since then, intensified work on both sides, based on a mutually agreed upon text during Erdoğan’s visit, has continued to push this issue forward, with the Turkish sources admitting that the bureaucratic procedure on the Russian side was more complicated than on the Turkish side.

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