Marisol Sep 2, 2006 -
EU to Iran: We're sorry it had to come to this, but you leave us no choice but to set another deadline. And rest assured we've got many more with your name on them ... and we're not afraid to use them.
LAPPEENRANTA, Finland (Reuters) - The European Union agreed on Saturday to try to clarify Iran's stance on halting uranium enrichment within two weeks and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan held talks in Tehran to try and settle the standoff.
Annan's visit to Iran takes place two days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported Tehran had failed to meet the U.N. Security Council's August 31 deadline to suspend sensitive work.
The United States, which accuses Iran of seeking atomic bombs, said on Friday it was consulting European governments about possible sanctions against the Islamic Republic, but the EU signaled it wanted to see more dialogue with Tehran which says its atomic activity is aimed at producing power.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, next week to try to clear up ambiguities in Tehran's reply to the major powers' offer of broad cooperation if it stops the nuclear work.
"If the meeting goes well and Iran accepts the philosophy of the cooperation project we presented to it in June, I think we will be able to start a more formal negotiation," French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche quoted Solana as saying.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said after the 25 EU ministers discussed the Iranian issue in Finland on Saturday: "We give Solana two weeks for his clarification talks."
But Solana told reporters: "There's no deadline, whenever we finish ... We are going to start in the coming days and I hope that it will be very short. We don't need many meetings."
Endless deadlines, or no deadline: same effect.
Other EU ministers said Solana would report back to them in Brussels on September 15 and they had agreed not to take any action against Iran before then.
EU diplomats said the two-week timeline was determined largely by the fact that the bloc's 25 foreign ministers hold their next regular meeting on September 15, and the U.N. General Assembly convenes on September 19.