Iran refuses to discuss uranium
Diplomats were struggling today to salvage international talks over Iran's nuclear ambitions after the Iranian delegation signalled it would not negotiate over the most controversial part of its programme, uranium enrichment.
Speaking to journalists outside a mosque in Istanbul, where the talks are taking place, an Iranian official said: "We appreciate the fact that our counterparts are not going to bring up the issue of enrichment."
Western officials said the talks had to include Iran's "obligations under UN security council resolutions" which demand suspension of enrichment. It is sensitive because the process can produce both fuel for power stations, Iran's stated intention, and fissile material for nuclear warheads, the focus of western suspicions.
European diplomats said they were prepared to talk about restoring trust through confidence-building measures, such as a deal to exchange Iranian uranium for French-made fuel rods first proposed in 2009, but that it had to be in the context of Iranian willingness to compromise on its overall nuclear aspirations.
The talks came to a critical moment this evening as Lady Ashton, the European foreign policy chief, tried to persuade Iran's principal nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, to have a bilateral meeting with the head of the US delegation, William Burns, over the details of Iran's nuclear programme.
Officials from six nations - the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany - held a preliminary round of talks with Jalili in Geneva last month, which were inconclusive. Both sides delivered speeches on their positions but did not enter a dialogue.
"Any repetition of Geneva would be seen as a failure. There is no question," said a European diplomat. "But in a way, there can't be a repeat of Geneva, because there, there was a general amicable atmosphere through all the empty speeches. If the same happens in Istanbul, there would be a lot more frustration."
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China's capital Beijing will introduce a vaccine mandate for certain public venues from July 11, the first in the country, as millions in China face new curbs and the country tackles fresh Covid-19 clusters including a karaoke lounge-related outbreak in Shanghai and a spreading one in the tourist city of Xian. Restaurants and public transport are exempt. Those who have health problems and cannot be vaccinated are exempt from the mandate.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defied growing calls for him to step down on Wednesday, telling lawmakers he would "keep going" following a wave of resignations from his government including those of two key ministers. Johnson made the remarks in parliament in response to a question from a lawmaker in his own party who asked if the prime minister thought there were any circumstances in which he should resign.
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The university responsible for curating the programme and the museum that provided it a platform issued an apology on Tuesday after uproar over a film with a poster found offensive by Hindu groups in Canada. On the other hand, York University, where the film's director is studying, has supported Leena Manimekalai's artistic freedom. A spokesperson for the university also said its logo was used on the controversial poster “without permission”.