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. France satisfied with US concesssions to Iran
GENEVA (AFP) Mar 14, 2005
The United States has given Europe what it expected by making trade concessions to Iran to help resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Monday.

"These gestures made recently by the United States give us what we expected and show that the United States, like Russia and China . . . wants to give negatiations a chance," Barnier told reporters in Geneva.

Britain, France and Germany have been trying to secure "objective guarantees" that Iran will not use its atomic energy program to acquire nuclear weapons, and in exchange they are offering a package of trade, security and technology benefits to the Islamic republic.

Washington, which charges that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program, wants to take Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions but has decided to give the European initiative a chance.

The United States on Friday announced it would help the EU put together the incentives by dropping objections to Iran joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and allowing it access to spare parts for its civilian aircraft.

Iran has however played down the importance of such offers, saying it has a right to join the WTO anyway and that sanctions affecting the maintenance of its decrepit civilian aircraft fleet were unfair to begin with.

"We are at a delicate point in the negotiations, which are fragile, but we hope to succeed," Barnier said.

He said that while the European trio, which is negotiating on behalf of the EU, wants Iran to "renounce nuclear weapons . . . in order to reduce risks of proliferation," the fact remains that Iran has a right "to use civilian nuclear energy for its own development."

Iran refuses a European demand that it give up uranium enrichment, which makes what can be fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs.

The European trio has been holding talks with Iran since December.

A meeting of foreign ministers from the four nations, as well as EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, is to be held on March 23, according to Ali Agha Mohammadi, spokesman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

But European diplomats have not confirmed this meeting.

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