The Straits Times
Published on Nov 21, 2012

World powers to plan new round of talks with Iran


BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - Officials from six world powers meet in Brussels on Wednesday to plan for a possible new round of talks with Iran, the latest effort to resolve a decade-long stand-off over its nuclear programme and avert the threat of a military conflict.

The re-election of United States. President Barack Obama this month has cleared the way for new talks and Western diplomats are eager to start soon as signs grow that Iran is still building up its nuclear capacity.

But the window of opportunity for a negotiated solution is narrowing because of growing alarm over Teheran's nuclear course in Israel, which has threatened to bomb Iranian installations.

Any Israeli strike, which would spark more fighting in the Middle East, is unlikely before the country's Jan. 22 election, experts say, giving the six powers some room for manoeuvre. "There certainly is a window to do a deal, but that window is closing, and closing fast. Ultimately it depends on the Iranians meeting their international obligations," said Mr Ariel Ratner, former Obama administration political appointee on Middle East issues at the State Department.