EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana today began talks with top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani on a package of incentives designed to coax Iran to stop uranium enrichment.
Solana went into closed door talks with Larijani in the Supreme National Security Council building in central Tehran. Journalists were barred from the building.
Solana had arrived in Tehran yesterday with the package that was agreed in talks among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.
He told reporters at Tehran airport he said the West wanted “to start a new relationship on the basis of mutual respect and trust.”
Solana said he believed the package would “allow us to engage in negotiations based on trust, respect and confidence”.
Details of the proposals have not been made public, but an early draft indicated that if Iran agreed to abandon uranium enrichment, the world would offer it help in building nuclear reactors, a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel, and European Airbus aircraft.
The United States has reportedly sweetened the offer by saying it would lift some bilateral sanctions on Iran, including a ban on Boeing passenger aircraft and related parts, if Iran agreed to an enrichment freeze.
The offer contains the implicit threat of UN Security Council sanctions if Iran continues to insist on enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for generating electricity or material for making nuclear bombs.
Iranian officials have sent conflicting signals on the initiative, reflecting a possible struggle within the leadership on how to react.
While Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to disrupt the world’s oil supply if the United States attacked Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the new initiative was welcome and promised his government would consider the package seriously.
In a major shift last week, the United States agreed to join in multinational talks with Iran on its nuclear programme if the country suspended enrichment.