Tehran: Turkey is still ready to host talks between Iran and the P5+1 group on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, Ankara has told the Islamic republic's nuclear chief.
The Al-Alam Arabic-language Iranian channel said on Friday that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had spoken to Iran's chief negotiator Sayeed Jalili about the talks slated for April 13 and 14 but whose location has yet to be
"Relations between Iran and Turkey are strategic and brotherly. Turkey is ready to welcome the next negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group," Al-Alam said Davutoglu told Jalili, citing a Supreme National Security Council source.
At the same time, Davutoglu was quoted as saying that "Iran's proposal to hold these talks in Baghdad is an intelligent one”.
After originally proposing that the negotiations be held in Istanbul, Tehran then suggested either Baghdad or Beijing as the venue.
On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Iran to act honestly after its about-face on Istanbul as the location for the talks.
"It is necessary to act honestly. They continue to lose prestige in the world because of a lack of honesty," Erdogan told a televised news conference in the latest salvo in a war of words between the two countries.
Erdogan spoke a day after Iranian officials announced that Tehran no longer wanted Turkey to host the next round of talks, apparently because of Ankara's stance on the Syria crisis.
Iran last held talks with the six powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – in January 2011 with no results.
Al-Alam reported that Ankara's Ambassador in Tehran, Umit Yardim, had met Jalili's deputy Ali Bargheri "to provide explanations" about Erdogan's remarks.
"Turkey's President and Prime Minister have great esteem for the Islamic republic, its supreme leader (Ali Khamenei) and President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad)," it reported Yardim as saying.
The station added that Yardim said "Turkey supports the position of the Islamic republic in the nuclear issue."
Western powers and Israel suspect Iran's programme of uranium enrichment masks a drive to manufacture nuclear weapons, but Tehran says the sensitive work is for peaceful purposes only.
Neither the United States nor Iran's arch-foe Israel have ruled out a military response to Iran's nuclear ambitions. For the past two years Turkey has mediated between Iran and world powers on the nuclear issue. (AFP)
First Published: Saturday, April 07, 2012, 00:06