Russia, Turkey and Iran Meet, Posing Test for U.S. Diplomacy
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
copyright by The New York Times
Published: June 8, 2010
ISTANBUL — Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran convened at a security summit meeting in Istanbul on Tuesday in a display of regional power that appeared to be calculated to test the United States just days before a scheduled American-backed debate in the United Nations Security Council on imposing tighter sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.
In remarks at the gathering of regional leaders, the third of its kind dedicated to increasing cooperation and security in Asia, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said a nuclear agreement brokered by Turkey and Brazil last month was a one-time opportunity and other countries had called to express their support for it.
“We’ve seen a lot of support from the international arena,” he said, according to the Turkey’s official Anatolian News Agency. “This is the voice of everyone’s heart.” Mr. Ahmadinejad also maintained a defiant posture toward the United States.
“If the U.S. and its allies think they could hold the stick of sanctions and then sit and negotiate with us, they are seriously mistaken,” he told a news conference, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV satellite broadcaster. European and American officials say the vote on sanctions could come as early as Wednesday.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran would not repeat its recent offer to send part of its stockpile out of Iran for enrichment. The accord, supported by Brazil and Turkey, was designed to break the deadlock over its nuclear program, according to Iran.
“The Tehran declaration provided an opportunity for the United States government and its allies. We had hoped and we are still hopeful that they use the opportunity well,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “I must say opportunities like this will not be repeated again.”
He added: “We were thinking that the United States President Barack Obama would make certain changes in the United States policies. We don’t say that we are hopeless. We hope that he can actually get over the present conditions in the time that remains. We are ready for dialogue within the frame of justice and respect.”
The United States contends Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran argues its nuclear program is peaceful. The deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil last month was based on parts of a previous United Nations-backed offer for Tehran to give up 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium in exchange for special fuel for a medical research reactor.
But the agreement infuriated the United States, which is trying to persuade other members of the Security Council, including China and Russia, to vote for tighter sanctions.
Mr. Ahmadinejad was to meet separately on Tuesday with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, at the conference, a move that is likely to worry the United States, which won the support of both Russia and China for sanctions this month.
Mr. Putin, speaking at the conference, said sanctions should not be “excessive” but gave no details on whether Russia would change its mind on the vote. He called Iran’s nuclear program peaceful, a characterization with which Washington disagrees.
“I hold the opinion that this resolution should not be unnecessary, should not put Iran’s leadership or the Iranian people into difficulty,” Mr. Putin said.
The conference reinforces the shifting alignments in this complicated area, where regional powers like Iran and Turkey, a NATO member, are emerging as bigger players.
Turkey, whose relationship with its longtime ally Israel is fraying, has been mediating in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East in a new activist foreign policy that has sometimes placed it at odds with Washington, its closest diplomatic and military partner.
Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Istanbul, and Alan Cowell from Paris.