12:00 AM, May 15, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 15, 2010

Iran, Syria favor Turkish mediation on Tehran's nukes

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In weekend visits to Turkey, Iranian and Syrian leaders welcomed Ankara's efforts to mediate a diplomatic solution to the dispute between Tehran and the West over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said May 8 that he favored a Turkish proposal for Iran to engage in talks with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. He said nuclear talks between Iran and the senior EU official could take place in Turkey, which has offered to host such a meeting.
The next day, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted in Istanbul Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Qatar's leader, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
After the tripartite talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters that the Syrian and Qatari leaders both supported Ankara's efforts to mediate between the Western powers and Iran.
The U.S., supported by most Western nations, is seeking fresh U.N. sanctions on Iran for the latter's nuclear program. Washington accuses Iran of seeking to obtain nuclear weapons, while Tehran denies this.
Although a NATO ally, Turkey, a rotating member of the U.N. Security Council, staunchly opposes new sanctions against Iran, with Erdogan mostly blaming Israel for the Mideast's nuclear problems.

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