Leaders of the P5+1 countries (UK, United States, France, China, Russia and Germany) tasked with negotiating with Iran over their nuclear development, met yesterday on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with High Representative Catherine Ashton, who represents the P5+1 in talks with Iran, before being joined by the foreign ministers of the other five countries.
A senior US State Department official summarised the meeting, reiterating that ‘the P-5+1 is completely united in ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon’, but made clear that diplomacy remains ‘far and away the preferred way to deal with this issue.’ The official said that Ashton is expected to report back to Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Dr Saeed Jalili, ‘to discuss the next steps forward.’
The State Department representative stressed that the P5+1 will not ‘have talks for talks sake’ with Iran, while expressing cautious optimism that ‘we have some reason to believe that they [the talks] will move to a point of seriousness, but we will test this out every step of the way.’ The official added, ‘there are some signals, because they [the Iranians] were willing to discuss [uranium enrichment up to] 20 per cent, because we did have some serious discussions, that we might find a basis to move forward. We are not there yet.’
The P5+1 forum of Western powers held several rounds of talks with Iran over the past few months, to try to persuade Tehran to halt its production of material which could be used in nuclear weapons. The discussions have so far made little substantive progress.