EU”s Solana meets Sarkozy to discuss Iranian file


Paris : Only one week ahead of a meeting with senior Iranian officials, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana is meeting Friday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss, principally, the Iranian nuclear issue and the ongoing impasse with that country.

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The meeting comes amid repeated statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, including one on Wednesday that he will not back down on the question of his country’s nuclear program.

The talks in Paris also come with the backdrop of the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna two days ago when the UN nuclear watchdog said that Iran’s nuclear ambitions were unclear but there was some division over the Iranian question.

A number of countries allege Iran is seeking to develop a military, nuclear potential, a charge Tehran has consistently denied.

The UN Security Council and Germany have been locked in a series of difficult and lengthy talks to convince Iran to halt uranium enrichment and open negotiations, but Iran wants it the other way around.

The UN has twice voted sanctions against Iran since December 2006 and a third round of sanctions is set to be discussed if it is concluded Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA and Solana.

A report by the IAEA last week indicated that there were shadowy areas where the Agency did not know exactly what was going on, but some aspects of Iranian cooperation were praised at the same time.

The EU representative is next scheduled to meet the relatively new Iranian negotiator, Saeid Jalili, in London on November 30 to see if there can be a breakthrough.

Sarkozy has taken a consistently tough line on the Iranian nuclear issue, saying several times that the acquisition by Iran of a nuclear device is “unacceptable.” He warned last August that “we should be careful that we don’t find ourselves faced with the worst possible choices: ‘Allow Iran to develop the bomb, or bomb Iran.'” However, Sarkozy did disassociate himself from his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who said on French television recently that we were facing the worst scenario with Iran, that of war.

Kouchner later back tracked saying that his remarks had been misinterpreted.