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. France wants "lasting" halt to Iran's nuclear drive
BRUSSELS (AFP) Nov 02, 2004
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier called Tuesday for Iran to produce a "lasting" halt to its uranium enrichment activities, as signs emerged of a compromise deal between Iran and the EU.

"We are in an extremely intensive phase of discussions with the Tehran government and we are entering into this final phase of discussions with a certain optimism," Barnier told reporters at a European Union meeting here.

Asked whether the EU could accept an Iranian offer to suspend uranium enrichment only for up to six months, Barnier said the bloc wanted a "lasting" suspension without specifying for how long.

A senior French source said "lasting" meant "for as long as possible".

Officials from EU heavyweights Britain, France and Germany are preparing for a new round of talks with Iran in Paris on Friday.

The EU has been pressing Tehran to renounce uranium enrichment entirely, in return for an assistance package for peaceful nuclear energy.

But diplomats at the UN's nuclear watchdog in Vienna said the EU was no longer explicitly calling for an indefinite suspension to the uranium programme, in a possible compromise ahead of Friday's talks.

Iran is prepared to halt uranium enrichment during its negotiations with the EU trio that "could last up to at most six months, not more", Tehran's top nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian Mousavian told AFP Tuesday.

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