EU´s Ashton briefs Israel PM on Iran talks: source (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 05/09/12)
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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Israel´s Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming nuclear talks
between world powers and Iran, an Israeli official told AFP.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and
incoming vice premier and Kadima head Shaul Mofaz, who on Tuesday
agreed to join the ruling Likud party in a national unity government,
also attended the meeting.
"They discussed Iran. Israel presented its positions as the next
round of P5+1 talks in Baghdad approach," the official said, speaking
on condition of anonymity.
The P5+1 grouping of diplomats from permanent UN Security Council
members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus
Germany held a first round of talks with Iran on April 14 in Istanbul
and a second round is due to take place in Baghdad on May 23.
Netanyahu presented Ashton with his view of what Israel would view as
progress: "Iranian agreements, with a clear timeline for
implementation, on three points: the cessation of all uranium
enrichment, the removal from Iran of all already-enriched material,
and the dismantlement of the underground facility in Qom."
He also expressed doubt the talks would achieve anything, telling
her: "From what we see so far, the Iranian regime is using these
talks to play for time, and there´s no evidence they have any
intention to cease their nuclear programme."
EU officials had no immediate comment on the meeting, which was kept
tightly under wraps and only flagged last week by the left-leaning
Haaretz newspaper, which said Ashton would be briefing Netanyahu on
developments in the P5+1 talks.
Last week, Haaretz reported that Israel´s National Security Advisor
Yaakov Amidror was touring European capitals to meet with top
officials directly engaged in the Iran talks.
The trip was prompted by Israeli concerns the upcoming talks could
ultimately end with a deal that would allow Tehran to continue
enriching uranium, the paper said, indicating Amidror had earlier
visited Moscow on the same mission.
Much of the West and Israel is concerned that Iran is trying to
develop an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian energy programme but
Tehran insists its intentions are solely peaceful.
Israel, widely considered the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the
Middle East, has consistently warned a nuclear-armed Iran would pose
an existential threat to the Jewish state, and has refused to rule
out a pre-emptive strike in a bid to halt it.
And top Israeli officials have expressed doubt that dialogue would be
Last month, Netanyahu criticised the Istanbul meeting as effectively
giving Tehran "a freebie" to continue enriching uranium, and Barak
has also expressed little confidence in the talks, saying
Israel "cannot afford to be duped." (Copyright © 2012 Agence France
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