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. Iran, EU nuclear talks to start December 13 in Brussels: Tehran
TEHRAN (AFP) Dec 08, 2004
Iran's nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani is to travel to Brussels on December 13 for talks with three European foreign ministers on Tehran's agreement to freeze sensitive nuclear work, an aide said Wednesday.

The talks are to take place at the invitation of Britain's Jack Straw, Michel Barnier of France and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher, Ali Agha Mohammadi of Iran's National Security Council told AFP.

"The aim of this trip to the headquarters of the European Union is to start negotiations on implementing the Paris accord", targeting a long-term agreement on the nuclear issue with the EU.

Rowhani, Iran's top national security official, said on Tuesday that the first round of the dialogue was also likely to involve EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, has also asked to take part, he said.

According to an EU source in Brussels, Tehran "asked for the first meeting of the steering committee (overseeing the nuclear agreement with Iran) to take place at ministerial level" in order to give it "better visibility".

Last week the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors decided Iran should not be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions after Tehran agreed in a deal with the three EU states to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran agreed to the deal amid threats from the United States -- which alleges that the Islamic republic is secretly developing nuclear weapons -- to send the matter to the Security Council in New York.

In return, Iran was promised considerable and wide-ranging rewards by the European trio who would like the freeze to become permanent.

Enrichment has been and remains at the heart of the stand-off.

Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to low levels, so as to produce fuel for a series of atomic power stations it has yet to build. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permits enrichment for peaceful purposes.

In return for the suspension, the EU is offering Iran a package of incentives -- due to be hammered out in more detail when negotiations begin -- on trade, security and technology.

Iran has pledged to maintain its suspension while the negotiations with the EU are in progress.

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