World powers have made no progress in persuading Iran to halt its nuclear programme, as talks over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme ended in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Saturday 01/22/2011. Iran refuses discuss the issue of its uranium enrichment, while the Western powers represented at the talks see it as a core concern (see -On-Collision).
Saeed Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator, met with Russian and Chinese delegations on Friday evening on the sidelines of the talks. Jalili was also expected to meet Bill Burns, his US counterpart, but he excused himself at the last moment, saying he had a "headache," sources said. Burns and Jalili met on the sidelines of an earlier round of talks in Geneva in 2009, but such contacts have been rarely confirmed by the Iranian side.
Early on during Friday's sessions, an Iranian delegate said Iran refused to discuss any suspension of its uranium enrichment activities during the Istanbul talks. Iran has ignored UN Security Council resolutions demanding it suspend enrichment, with trade and other benefits offered in return, and refused to grant unfettered access for UN nuclear inspectors.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, is the lead negotiator for the big powers - the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. She outlined a possible revised offer for a nuclear fuel swap that would entail Iran handing over a large chunk of its stockpile of low enriched uranium. But no offer was made as Iran's preconditions included a suspension of economic sanctions, a Western diplomat said.
However, there was some relief that Iran was ready to continue with discussions; diplomats were concerned talks could have collapsed after the first day as both sides reiterated previous positions on the issue.
While the negotiation in Istanbul reached a deadlock. In another front with Iran in Lebanon, the crisis over Rafik Hariri's assassination, on 02/14/2005 (see - UN-STL), and the collapse of the pro-Western regime, led by Rafik Hariri's son Saad Hariri, the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has indicated he will back the pro-Iranian Shiaa militant group Hizbullah in its efforts to form a new coalition government in Lebanon. Hizbullah is the prime suspect of carrying out the assassination, ordered probably by Iran (see - Meast Hariri's Despute).
Walid Jumblatt was once one of the leaders of the anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian Lebanese political block, the "March 14 block" but switched recently sides to the pro Iranian camp. His father Kamal Jumblatt was too assassinated by Syrian agents on 03/16/1977.
It seems Iran is escalating its confrontation with the Western powers to a degree that the former PM Tony Blair told Britainís Iraq war inquiry, on Friday 01/21/2011, that the world had to use force if needed to curb Iranís nuclear drive.
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