At the latest round of E3+3 talks on the Iranian nuclear programme in Moscow on 18 and 19 June, the two sides agreed to a follow on technical-level meeting in July. At that meeting, experts from both sides are to review concrete proposals to resolve the conflict. Foreign Minister Westerwelle said the negotiating positions of Iran and the E3+3 remained very far away from each other.
At the same time, he welcomed the decision to hold expert-level talks: "After the talks, we'll decide in light of their outcomes how we're going to move forward in the negotiations with Iran." The E3+3 talks were resumed only this year with meetings in Istanbul on 14 April and in Baghdad on 23 and 25 May, following a long period of suspended talks.
For years there has been reason to doubt that Iran's nuclear programme serves exclusively peaceful purposes. Iran is failing to cooperate adequately with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on this issue, and so Germany is working with the United States, Russia, China, France and the UK to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear conflict. These countries - also known as E3+3 - have repeatedly extended offers of negotiations to Iran.
Significant gaps between the two positions
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton stressed that the E3+3 remained "absolutely unified in seeking a swift diplomatic resolution". After five plenary sessions and several bilateral meetings, she said, the group had begun to tackle the critical issues in Moscow. It remained clear, however, that there were significant gaps between the substance of the two positions, Ashton stated.
The E3+3 and Iran agreed to take the following steps:
- A technical-level meeting will be held on 3 July. Proposals from both sides will be more carefully scrutinized and discussed at the meeting.
- This will be followed by a meeting between EEAS Deputy Secretary General Helga Schmid and Ali Baqeri, with Schmidt serving as Ashton's representative and Baqeri representing Iranian chief negotiation Saeed Jalili.
- Ashton and Jalili will then be in touch with each other about prospects for a future meeting at the political level.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle underscored on 19 July that a political and diplomatic solution remained the goal. "For this reasons we will, together with our partners in the EU and the US, keep pursuing a two-pronged strategy of negotiations and sanctions, while the agreed sanctions against Iran will also enter into force on 1 July," he added.
Together with its international partners within the E3+3, Germany is pursuing a dual approach. On the one hand, it offers Iran comprehensive cooperation should it choose to cooperate with the international community on its nuclear programme. On the other hand, should Iran not cooperate, UN Security Council sanctions are aimed at persuading it to yield to the demands of the international community.