Agreement has been reached that the venue for the forthcoming talks on Iran’s nuclear programme will be Istanbul. The European Union, Iran and the so-called “5+1 Group” (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) will meet together in the Turkish city on 14th April. It was also agreed that the meeting after Istanbul will be held in Baghdad.
A statement issued on Tuesday evening by Iraq’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the choice of venue: “Iraq is especially concerned with this subject, particularly as one of the decisions taken during the 23rd session of the Arab Summit on 29th of March last year included the Declaration of Baghdad, which calls explicitly for the Middle East to be made a zone free of nuclear weapons and of all other weapons of mass destruction.”
It has been claimed that earlier this month Iran put forward a proposal to the Iraqi government that it should host this month’s meeting instead of Istanbul. The proposal was made by a high-ranking delegation from Iran’s National Security Council headed by its Deputy Head of Political Affairs, Ali Baqiri, and was addressed to the government and the Foreign Ministry.
According to the statement, the Ministry “confirmed it’s welcome of the offer and that it would begin official and diplomatic communication with all concerned parties regarding the Iranian proposal.” It also confirmed that “Iraq is not directly with any side in the nuclear talks, as such the agreement of the international community and Iran is a necessary prerequisite to the time and place of the meeting; and Iraq’s role is limited to hosting, extending invitations and fulfilling the administrative and technical requirements.”