Obama: US Offered No ‘Freebies’ to Iran

Posted April 15th, 2012 at 8:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday insisted his administration did not “give away anything” to Iran during the latest round of nuclear talks in Turkey.

Speaking to reporters in Cartagena, Colombia, where he attended the Summit of the Americas, Mr. Obama also defended Washington's decision to continue to push for a diplomatic resolution of the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

He said that while he refused to let the negotiations turn into a “stalling process,” he was willing to give diplomacy one last chance.

President Obama was responding to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said earlier Sunday that the U.S. and world powers gave Tehran a “freebie” by agreeing to hold another round of talks next month in Baghdad.

Saturday's talks in Istanbul between diplomats from Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany were the first since a previous round of talks collapsed 15 months ago amid mutual recriminations.

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes called the discussions a “positive first step” and the plans to hold another meeting in May an “additional positive sign.”

When asked what message Israel should take from the meeting in Turkey, Rhodes said the U.S. and Israel have communicated “a sense of urgency,” that time is not unlimited. He said Washington and Tel Aviv have also stressed the need for concrete confidence-building steps by Iran.

The talks in Istanbul came at a time of increased international pressure on Tehran. New U.S. and European Union economic sanctions against Iran are due to go into effect July 1, while Israel has warned it may take military action.