US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Iran that it must meet Western demands to stop enriching uranium. Talks between the Islamic Republic and world powers in Kazakhstan ended without any progress.
Despite the fruitless negotiations in Almaty over the weekend, Kerry said in Istanbul on Sunday that the Obama administration remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution with Tehran, even as Israel ramps up rhetoric in calling for the West to present the Islamic Republic with a military ultimatum.
"It is important to talk and to try to find common ground," Kerry told reporters at a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. "So we hope that out of Almaty will come a narrowing of some of the differences. We remain open and hopeful that a diplomatic solution can be found."
But EU foreign affairs chief Catherin Ashton admitted on Saturday that during the two-day talks in the former Kazakh capital, the two sides did not come to an understanding and still remain “a considerable distance apart” on substantive issues. Ashton represents the so-called P5+1, made up of the five permanent UN Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany.
'Not an endless process'
Kerry said that although the Obama administration favors diplomacy, talks are not "interminable."
"This is not an endless process," said Kerry, who is on a 10-day diplomatic trip. "You can't just talk for the sake of talking."
Meanwhile, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Army Radio on Sunday that world powers should set a deadline of "a few weeks, a month" for military action against Iran, if it does not halt enrichment.
Kerry also discussed Israeli-Turkish relations while in Istanbul on Sunday. He called on Ankara to quickly restore diplomatic ties with Israel, after President Obama helped arrange a rapprochement between the former allies during his Mideast trip last month.
"We would like to see this relationship that is important to stability in the Middle East and critical to the peace process...get back on track in its full measure," Kerry said.
Turkey had suspended its once close diplomatic and military ties with Israel, after Israeli commandos shot dead nine Turkish nationals during a raid on a humanitarian ship bound for the embargoed Gaza Strip.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the incident, fulfilling a long standing demand of Ankara's. But Turkey has also called on Israel to lift its embargo of the Gaza Strip as another condition of fully restoring normal diplomatic relations.
"There is an offense that has been committed and there needs to be accountability," Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said.
US Secretary of State Kerry flew to Israel later on Sunday, where he is due to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas followed by Netanyahu.
slk/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)