Iran’s New Negotiator to Attend First N. Meeting

A0253950.jpgIran’s new nuclear negotiator will hold Tuesday his first talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on the atomic crisis with the West. Saeed Jalili, who will meet Solana in Rome, is not expected to offer any concessions to the other side.

Jalili took over from Ali Larijani, who held the post for over two years but resigned on Saturday after some differences emerged between him and President Ahmadinejad over the handling of Iran’s nuclear case.

“It was no longer possible for Larijani to continue with Ahmadinejad,” the deputy speaker of parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar said.

“The two sides reached this conclusion that this had to be done,” he said.

The top nuclear negotiator, whose official title is secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, has the job of leading talks with the European Union and the UN nuclear watchdog on Iran’s nuclear case.

However Larijani will still attend the talks in Rome alongside his successor, officials said.

Larijani is still holding on to his seat on the Supreme National Security Council as the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and it is in this capacity that he will attend the talks.

“Dr Jalili will be there and Dr Larijani will be there, serving as the representative of the supreme leader,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini during a weekly press conference here on Sunday.

It could be assumed that Larijani is attending the talks to ensure a smooth handover, but Hosseini did not confirm that the Rome talks would be his last.

“This is how we will attend for this meeting. For the future let us wait and see,” he said.

Larijani and Solana met several times in European capitals over the past year but failed to make any headway in the key sticking point in the dispute, Tehran’s uranium enrichment activities.

The United States and Western powers claim that Iran intends to use uranium enrichment for military purposes, but they don’t have any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran insists it only wants to generate energy and has every right to the full nuclear fuel cycle as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Despite two sets of UN sanctions and unilateral economic measures from the United States, Tehran has refused to budge an inch.

The United States has never ruled out the possibility of military action and hawkish Vice President Dick Cheney warned of “serious consequences” against Tehran.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear policy will not change after the appointment of Jalili, author of a book entitled “The Foreign Policy of the Prophet.”

Hosseini reiterated during the Sunday press conference that the country’s nuclear policies would remain unchanged.

“The Islamic Republic’s nuclear policies, strategies and goals are irrevocable,” he said.

“Our officials will continue strongly along the same road and no change will come about,” he added.

Hosseini dismissed talk of any divisions over policy or any change in strategy.

“There is complete solidarity among the ranks of Iranian officials.”

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