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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Iran, EU agree to hold fresh nuclear talks

Iranian and EU nuclear diplomats on Monday agreed to continue talks aimed at ending Iran’s long-running nuclear standoff with the West.

The agreement came after Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili on Monday held a telephone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

“The two sides agreed to continue negotiations in a constructive atmosphere…Solana and Jalili voiced satisfaction at the constructive trend of negotiations in Geneva and the contacts afterwards,” Iran’s TV reported.

On July 19, Jalili and Solana held talks in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear dispute. U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns also participated in the negotiations. It was the highest level of diplomatic contact between Iran and the United States in 30 years.

Also present were representatives from the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany last month offered Iran an updated package of incentives in return for a halt to Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.

The package, which is a follow-up of an original proposal in 2006, offers nuclear cooperation and wider trade in aircraft, energy, high technology, and agriculture.

However, Iran has repeatedly ruled out suspending uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks with the major powers, insisting that, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to utilize civilian nuclear technology.

The United States and Britain said on Wednesday the six world powers had agreed to consider more UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, but Russia said there was no firm deal.

The UN Security Council has so far imposed three rounds sanctions against the Islamic Republic, including financial and travel bans on Iranian individuals and companies.

(Source: Tehran Times)

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