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Iran sees better cooperation with nuclear watchdog

Iran Materials 15 September 2009 21:56 (UTC +04:00)
Iran Tuesday held out the prospect of "deeper cooperation" with the U.N. nuclear watchdog as it gears up for talks with world powers which are likely to be held in Turkey.
Iran sees better cooperation with nuclear watchdog

Iran Tuesday held out the prospect of "deeper cooperation" with the U.N. nuclear watchdog as it gears up for talks with world powers which are likely to be held in Turkey, Reuters reported.

Iranian nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi spoke in upbeat terms after meeting the outgoing head of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

"We managed to come to an agreement to set a new framework for better and deeper cooperation in the future," Salehi told reporters, summarising talks with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

He gave no details and the IAEA made no comment. Iran rejects Western suspicions it is secretly developing a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program is aimed solely at generating electricity.

Tehran has agreed to wide-ranging talks with six world powers but has ruled out discussing its nuclear activities. The United States and the European Union, on the other hand, insist the nuclear issue must be the focus.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters the venue for the October 1 meeting would "very likely" be Turkey.

Solana said Western policy remained "twin track": to offer incentives to Iran -- which has so far refused to give up its uranium enrichment program -- while holding out the threat of further sanctions. But he said now was not the time to talk about these.

"At this point in time we are going to try to enter into negotiations," he said. "Let's talk about that."

In Moscow, however, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declined to rule out fresh sanctions. "Sanctions are not very effective on the whole, but sometimes you have to embark on sanctions," Medvedev said.

Solana, who has been representing the six powers -- the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia -- in long-running efforts to resolve the row with Iran, was cautious when asked how much he thought the new talks could achieve.

But he urged Tehran to take advantage of stepped-up U.S. engagement in the talks process under the administration of President Barack Obama.

"I always intend to try and achieve as much as possible in the negotiations. But it is not the first time we meet. We know each other well," he said.

"There are some things that are new: the Americans will be present in a formalized manner; that is new, and I think that has to be evaluated positively by the Iranians."

A senior Iranian official said Monday Iran would not negotiate on its "sovereign right" to nuclear energy but, if that were recognized, it was ready to discuss any issue at the talks, including ways of upholding non-proliferation globally.

Also Monday, a senior U.S. official called Iran's agreement to enter talks an "important first step," but the White House said Iran would show its failure to meet international obligations if it stuck to its refusal to discuss its nuclear program.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu welcomed Iran's decision to enter talks as "an important step."

EU foreign ministers discussed the Iranian nuclear issue on Monday evening, and Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said more sanctions would be needed if talks did not succeed.

He said these should come from the United Nations, but if that were not possible, the EU should act unilaterally.

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