Kerry urges Iran to unlock impasse
US secretary of state John Kerry and German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (right) attend a news briefing after talks at the foreign ministry in Berlin. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
US secretary of state John Kerry said in Berlin today he hoped Iran will choose to move closer to a diplomatic solution on its nuclear ambitions.
Mr Kerry was speaking at a meeting with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle as nuclear talks between Tehran and other world powers got under way in Kazakhstan.
He said he wished to "express my hope that these talks can advance that dialogue and that Iran itself will make its choice to move down the path of a diplomatic solution".
Iran said it would offer a "comprehensive package of proposals" during the talks, Iran's state-run Press TV reported.
It said the proposals may change depending on offers from other world leaders. The report gave no details of the proposals.
Diplomats hope the latest round of negotiations will break the deadlock over Iran's nuclear activities which the United States and its allies suspect are intent on developing a weapons capability, accusations Tehran denies.
However, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said world powers do not expect a breakthrough agreement at the talks in the Kazakh city of Almaty, her spokesman said.
"It is clear that nobody expects to come from Almaty with a fully-done deal," he told a news conference shortly after negotiations started. Talks are expected to run through tomorrow.
Few believe the latest attempt to reach compromise will yield any major breakthroughs, and negotiators refused to detail what the new solutions might be.
Instead, officials described the latest diplomatic discussions as a way to build confidence with Iran as it steadfastly maintains its right to enrich uranium in the face of harsh international sanctions.
“The offer addresses the international concern on the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, but it is also responsive to Iranian ideas,” said Ms Ashton's spokesman said. “We’ve put some proposals forward which will hopefully allow Iran to show some flexibility.”
Mahmoud Mohammedi, a member of the Iranian delegation, said Tehran is prepared to make an offer of its own to end the impasse but refused to provide any details.
The Obama administration is pushing for diplomacy to solve the impasse but has not ruled out the possibility of military intervention in Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And Israel has threatened it will use all means to stop Iran from being able to build a bomb, potentially as soon as this summer, raising the spectre of a possible Mideast war.
In a statement before the talks began today, Interfax news agency cited Russia’s envoy as saying easing of sanctions is possible only if Iran can assure the world that its nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes.
“There is no certainty that the Iranian nuclear programme lacks a military dimension, although there is also no evidence that there is a military dimension,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said.