EU´s Ashton plans Israel visit to update Netanyahu on Iran nuclear talks (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 05/03/12)
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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to
fly in to Jerusalem on Wednesday, to give Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu a rundown of developments in nuclear talks between Iran and
six world powers. The meeting is apparently an effort to prevent
Israel from speaking out publicly against the talks.
Ashton´s visit, expected to last several hours, comes ahead of the
second round of talks, which will begin May 23 in Baghdad.
After the first round of talks in Istanbul last month, Netanyahu
accused the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and
Germany of giving Iran a "freebie" by providing it with more time to
enrich uranium, before the second round of talks. U.S. President
Barack Obama has rejected the claim.
Ashton´s visit was planned during a visit to Europe this week by
National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, said a senior Israeli
Amidror met in Brussels with Ashton´s deputy, Helga Schmid, who
informed him of the strategy undertaken by the negotiating team of
the six world powers. The team is headed by Ashton.
The meeting is unusual, because Ashton will meet only with Netanyahu
and will not be visiting Ramallah. The Israeli government source said
that´s because the only topic under discussion will be the Iranian
Ashton is expected to personally tell Netanyahu about the first round
of nuclear talks and about preparations for the next round, in an
effort to assuage his concerns that a deal is in the works that would
authorize Iran to continue enriching uranium.
Netanyahu is also concerned that Iran will secure a pledge for a
suspension of sanctions, including the oil embargo scheduled to go
into effect July 1, in exchange for a partial freeze on uranium
enrichment. The embargo would be a serious blow to the Iranian
A senior European diplomat who is knowledgeable about the nuclear
talks said European officials have been quite pleased with the firm
stance Ashton has taken in the negotiations so far.
The five permanent Security Council members are Britain, China,
France, Russia and the United States. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz
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