December 27, 2010. DAMASCUS (KATAKAMI / THE DAILY STAR-LEBANON/ AFP) — A senior Iranian official said in Damascus Monday that next month’s talks in Istanbul between world powers and Tehran could resolve their dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
“We think [the negotiations], in line with the agenda decided in Geneva, could clear the way to resolving problems,” said Ali Bagheri, the deputy of Said Jalili, Iran’s nuclear negotiator.
“Continuing the negotiations in Istanbul could bring gains to both the parties concerned,” Bagheri told a news conference after talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
But he criticized the West’s two-pronged policy of negotiations at the same time as sanctions, warning it would “lead nowhere.”
Despite four sets of UN sanctions slapped on Tehran over its controversial nuclear program, Iran was “carrying out the most extensive economic program in its history, showing its level of political, economic and social stability.”
Negotiations “based on dialogue and cooperation could bring the other parties out of their impasse,” said Bagheri.
Assad, quoted by the state news agency SANA, called in his talks with Bagheri for “a diplomatic compromise guaranteeing Iran’s right to possess peaceful nuclear energy.”
Last week on a visit to Istanbul for a regional summit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the world powers to choose cooperation over confrontation at the nuclear talks in late January.
“We think this meeting will be very important,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference in Istanbul, which will host the talks between six world powers and Iran, expected to be held in late January.
“We have suggested that in the forthcoming Istanbul meeting, confrontation be replaced with cooperation and … this will be in the interest of all sides,” he said through an interpreter.
“In cooperation we will have a win-win situation. There is no failure or defeat for any party.
“So we think the Istanbul meeting will be a historical and landmark event and we can replace confrontation with cooperation,” he said.
The negotiations would be the second round between Iran and six world powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, US and Germany – after talks resumed in Geneva earlier this month following a 14-month hiatus.
Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government has established close ties with Tehran, insisting on a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row and reluctant to back a tougher line against the Islamic Republic, its eastern neighbor.
The West suspects that Tehran is developing an atomic bomb under the guise of a nuclear energy program. Iran denies the charges and insists its activities have a purely peaceful purpose. –