BAGHDAD, April 4 — Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Tehran has asked Baghdad to host the upcoming round of talks between the six world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear programme instead of Istanbul.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari had received an Iranian delegation on Tuesday evening, expressing Tehran’s desire for Baghdad to host the international meeting on the Iranian nuclear file of the P5+1, Xinhua news agency quoted a statement from the Ministry’s website.
“The (Iraqi) Foreign Minister welcomes the Iranian proposal and expresses Iraq’s readiness to host the meeting. He will conduct the necessary contacts with the relevant parties about the proposal,” the statement said. The talks group the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China) plus Germany, known as P5+1, as well as Iran.
On March 31, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the P5+1 and Iran have agreed on meeting in Turkey’s Istanbul on April 13-14 with the aim of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The resumption of negotiations came after a more-than-one-year deadlock on talks over Iran’s suspected nuclear programme.
The last round of talks was held in Istanbul in January 2011 but ended in vain. The round before that, in late 2010, was in Geneva. The talks carry hopes of defusing a tense international showdown over Iran’s nuclear activities that has sent oil prices soaring.
The UN has by now imposed four sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for bomb. The European Union, the United States and some countries have imposed an oil embargo as part of sanctions to pressure Tehran into resuming talks on the country’s nuclear programme. They have also imposed tough banking sanctions aimed at limiting Iran’s ability to sell oil, which accounts for 80 percent of its foreign revenue.