Senior Iranian lawmaker says no to Turkey as host for nuclear talks

An Iranian lawmaker who runs a foreign policy committee in the parliament says Iran finds Turkey an unacceptable venue for the nuclear talks scheduled to begin next week between Tehran and six world powers.

The statement by the lawmaker, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, raises new questions about whether the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group — the five United Nations Security Council members plus Germany — will go on as scheduled, as well as how effective they will ultimately be.

"Iranian officials are not interested in Turkey as the host," Boroujerdi was quoted as saying in the independent Etemad newspaper, according to the Associated Press.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced over the weekend that Istanbul would host the talks, which are scheduled for April 14-15.

But a number of Iranian officials have suggested other locations, including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and China.

The Iranians are objecting to Turkey as a host for the talks because of its involvement in the Syrian crisis, as Turkey has aligned with Western and Arab League nations to oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown. Syria is a close ally of Iran.

Istanbul was the location for last year’s talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, which failed to achieve progress on Iran’s nuclear program.

The United States and its allies say Iran is looking to obtain nuclear weapons, while Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

When asked about the venue change Wednesday, Clinton said: “we are not interested in talks for the sake of talks.”

“We want to see a peaceful resolution of the international community’s concerns,” she said. “But the time for diplomacy is not infinite, and all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Tensions between Iran and the West have escalated in recent months, as Iran has boosted nuclear production and Israeli has threatened a military strike to stop Iran’s program. President Obama has urged time for sanctions from the United States and the European Union to take effect.