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EU official rejects Turkey as venue for Iran talks

By Glenn Kessler

The European Union's foreign policy chief has accepted Iran's proposal to meet Dec. 5 but has rejected Istanbul as a venue, according to a copy of the letter seen by The Washington Post.

The exchange is the latest in a lengthy debate over when and where to hold talks between Iran and six nations eager to negotiate restraints on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran earlier this week proposed holding the talks on Nov. 23 or Dec. 5 in Turkey, but that would have meant that Turkish officials would host the event and presumably join in. The countries now involved in the long-stalled talks -- the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- are wary of adding another to the mix at this point.

"As far as the venue is concerned, holding the meeting in Istanbul is not possible for Her Excellency Lady [Catherine] Ashton, but she suggests that the meeting might take place in Vienna, or alternatively in Switzerland," wrote James Morrison, Ashton's chief of staff, in the letter to Iranian officials.

Iran's response earlier this week suggested it was only interested in meeting on a single day, which U.S. and European officials argue will leave little time for a productive session. Ashton suggested in Friday's letter that the meetings begin on Dec. 5 with a dinner, continue on Dec. 6 and then conclude at midday on Dec. 7 with a news conference.

While Ashton's letters have repeatedly stressed an interest in discussing Iran's nuclear program, the Iranian responses have been silent on the subject. Iranian officials have publicly declared they have no interest in discussing their nuclear program, despite new sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council for Tehran's failure to halt uranium enrichment.

By Glenn Kessler  | November 12, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
 
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Comments

The apparent refusal of the EU to agree to a Turkish venue for talks with Iran is welcome. It is a rare assertion of courage by the normally spineless EU (and, by extension, America) vis-a-vis Turkey.

One must encourage other countries as well as the Post to stop genuflecting everytime Turkey threatens, begs, boasts, and generally acts obnoxious.

Can you think of any other country in NATO that so regularly threatens its friends with vituperative language and undiplomatic assaults? I can't. Only dictatorships and authoritarian countries use the sort of threatening, violent language that Turkey's leaders use.

I really believe that, all things considered, Turkey usually gets its way like a spoiled child, and that the American media, unduly impressed with Turkey's temper tantrums, simply go along with it. Enough is enough.

Posted by: Manny8 | November 12, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

@Manny8: If the EU is so spineless, why is Turkey not yet a member?

Posted by: Garak | November 12, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@Manny8: If the EU is so spineless, why is Turkey not yet a member?

Posted by: Garak | November 12, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@Manny8: If the EU is so spineless, why is Turkey not yet a member?

Posted by: Garak | November 12, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@Manny8: If the EU is so spineless, why is Turkey not yet a member?

Posted by: Garak | November 12, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Please excuse the duplicate posts. Kept getting an error message that post failed.

Posted by: Garak | November 12, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The Germans still believe deeply in their pure Conservative heritage and as such Turkey is not a welcomed country to host such an event.
I am not suprised by the move. Turkey was never accepted as a pivotal country that can bridge the gap between East and West.
The Europeans neocons from Sarkozy to the right wing German Chancellor's (remember her speech about multicultural has been a failure) office are not interested in promoting Turkey as it may backfired on them and they do to allienate by any means from joining a totally Christian European Club .
They do not want this country to be prominent at the international arena and are happy to see it fail. This European arrogance has to stop especially at this time of recession where Turkey has more to gain by dealing with Asian countries from China, India and the Petro-dollars rich Middle East countries. Turkey is not as desperate to join the EU as it used to be.The balance of power is shifting towards the East :)

Posted by: 1Nouri | November 12, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The Turks should be in the talks to get some balance into this matter. Iran is no threat to the EU, the US or even Israel. It is the other way around. We are forever threatening Iran, as Israel would command our bought and sold government officials to do! Disgraceful hoax!

Posted by: likovid | November 12, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Garak is right (several times). The EU has behaved short-sightedly vis-a-vis Turkey for a long time, and if that has contributed to a more eastern-looking government there than it would like, it has only itself to blame.

Posted by: Itzajob | November 12, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the issue at hand, I want to bring up how poorly this article is written. How could one possibly not include the EU Foreign Policy Chief's name in the lead, and then later throwing out Catherine Ashton's name without a proper first-reference introduction? WP, get your act together!

Posted by: dee09 | November 12, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Turkey should consider pulling out of NATO. Her Excellency - Her Ladyship - Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative deserves a good slap in the face.

Turkey is lucky they didn't get to join the EU. Their economy is in better shape.

Posted by: alance | November 12, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Down with EU!

Hey EU, take your U and stick it. We don't need to be a part your agony, double faced politics.

We helped you to rebuild after 1945, and you ungrateful ba$$tard trying to make us go through hoops to join your miserable union. WTF.

Posted by: Gokturk1 | November 12, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Time out. Why should Iran go to a meeting with the bunch who have done their best to topple their government, bankrupt them by putting illegal sanctions on them and threatens them with military force etc?? Someone clear that up please? The West is not the international body that regulates or observes and monitors the NPT or any nuclear program that goes on around the world, such as the on in Brazil or Argentina etc?!! Only UN and IAEA have the international obligation to monitor Iran's nuclear activity, end of the story. So, why should Iran go to this meeting again? They did the first time and they were TOLD what to do, which is NOT the way a negotiation works. Iran purposed to exchange her LEU in her territory and it was us and the France who left the meeting NOT Iran!

So, push the blame and point the finger at those who are trying to delay this process because they have no legal venue to keep Iran from having a nuclear energy, which by the international law they have every rights to have it. It is not Iran who is using the delay tactic, its us.

Iran is a signatory to NPT and the IAEA is still in Iran and still is in charge of the Iranian LEU and there is NO ground for any military activity as long as this is true.

Posted by: Esther_Haman | November 12, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree with keeping the Turks out. They seem to be only interested in pursuing their own interests rather than serving as a bridge.

Posted by: robert17 | November 12, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable! We do not trust our "most important strategic ally," Turkey, anymore! How can we live without Turkey? Who is going to sell heroine to our children and give a share from the revenue to our "esteemed" politicians?

Posted by: ettanick1 | November 12, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse


"NOTHING CAN DEPRIVE IRAN OF ITS INALIENABLE RIGHT FOR NUCLEAR ENERGY."
BUT, YOU CAN KEEP TRYING BY ALL MEANS TO SABOTAGE IT SUCH AS SANCTIONS, VIRUS, ALL KINDS OF MEDIA PROPAGANDA LIES LIKE WMD IN IRAQ, IRAN IS A THREAT OR YOU NAME IT LIKE THE WAY THE BIBLE WRITTEN.
UN CHARTER VII ARTICLE 51:
Provides for the right of countries to engage in military action in self-defense, including collective self-defense (i.e. under an alliance) FOR IRAN

Posted by: clownsandliars1 | November 13, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse


"NOTHING CAN DEPRIVE IRAN OF ITS INALIENABLE RIGHT FOR NUCLEAR ENERGY."
BUT, YOU CAN KEEP TRYING BY ALL MEANS TO SABOTAGE IT SUCH AS SANCTIONS, VIRUS, ALL KINDS OF MEDIA PROPAGANDA LIES LIKE WMD IN IRAQ, IRAN IS A THREAT OR YOU NAME IT LIKE THE WAY THE BIBLE WRITTEN.
UN CHARTER VII ARTICLE 51:
Provides for the right of countries to engage in military action in self-defense, including collective self-defense (i.e. under an alliance) FOR IRAN

Posted by: clownsandliars1 | November 13, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I think, EU is once again shortsighted by excluding Turkey from talks. Iran needs someone who they can trust during negotiations, but all the countries in the talks are Christian. Why not adding Turkey to make it easy for Iranians to participate in talks?

It looks like EU has no intention to get anything out of talks, so in order to sabotage the talks, they exclude Turkey who is the only one in the picture that can bring Iran to the table. West once again playing the dirty game.

Lady Ashton is a moron who is also a puppet of right wing nuts of EU like Sarko and Merkell.

Posted by: goturkish1 | November 13, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

ettanick1....does Turkey sell heroine to your children? I am sure your intentions are racist as you are. Take your hate somewhere else. No trolling here.

If you really but really want peace in middle east, then you have to go by Turks. Like it or not, they are the cable ones over there. I know anti-Turk racists will not be happy to hear that. But tough luck!

Posted by: goturkish1 | November 13, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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