Russia Calls on Iran and World Powers to Stop Bickering “Like Children”

January 29, 2013Marketsby EW News Desk Team

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Global powers and Iran should “stop behaving like little children” and set a date for new negotiations over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme, said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, after the both sides failed to agree on a location for the talks which had been due to take place this month.

European officials have accused Iran of stalling on arranging a meeting with world powers, including Russia, who are trying to dissuade Tehran from developing atomic weapons. On Monday, a spokesman for the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Iran has not agreed to any meeting requests since December and Tehran had been wilfully delaying the talks by changing venues and using other staling techniques.

Iranian officials, however, deny they are to blame for the delays and say Western countries are responsible for stalling until after the U.S. presidential election in November, which resulted in lost opportunities.

"We have always said that we are ready to negotiate until a result is reached and we have never broken off discussions," state news agency IRNA quoted Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying on Monday.

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Describing the two-way accusations as an “ideology-driven argument” between Iran and the so-called P5+1 - Russia, the U.S., U.K., China, France and Germany, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday criticised both sides for behaving immaturely and hoped that “common sense” would prevail soon.

"Some of our partners in the six powers and the Iranian side cannot come to an agreement about where to meet," Lavrov told a news conference yesterday. He added:

We are ready to meet at any location as soon as possible. We believe the essence of our talks is far more important than the atmosphere of any given venue, and we hope that common sense will prevail and we will stop behaving like capricious little children.

The West has not provided a definitive list of options, but reports suggest Salehi is open to attending talks held in Turkey, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and Sweden.

Monday’s reactions by Salehi and Lavrov suggest no headway has been made on efforts to renew dialogue, more than six months since the last round in Moscow in June ended in stalemate, triggering severe international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy while raising the possibility of an Israeli-led attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

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The West is demanding that Iran halt its highest-level enrichment of uranium, which Washington and others fear could quickly be turned into nuclear warhead-grade material.

However, Iran has refused to halt all uranium enrichment and demanded relief from international economic sanctions before it agrees to any compromise. Tehran has previously suggested it may be willing to halt higher-grade enrichment if its conditions are met and its right to enrich is formally recognised.

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