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. Iran's new top nuclear negotiator meets Indian leaders ahead of UN deadline
NEW DELHI (AFP) Aug 31, 2005
Iran's new top nuclear negotiator was in New Delhi Wednesday for talks with Indian leaders, in an apparent bid to drum up support in a looming international clash over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Iran's Ali Larijani met National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan soon after his arrival in the Indian capital Tuesday, a foreign ministry official said.

"He is slated to meet some other key people here before his departure Thursday," the official said without elaborating and asking not to be identified.

The Indian foreign office has confirmed the visit but has declined to give details.

Larijani's trip comes just days ahead of a September 3 deadline set by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for Iran to stop work on atomic power reactor fuel that could also be used to make weapons.

Last week, Larijani said Iran would not give up its right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to make nuclear fuel.

Larijani's visit also precedes a visit to Tehran Friday by Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh for talks with new President Mahmoud Amedinejad that will likely include a proposed 7.4 billion dollar gas pipeline between Iran and India passing through Pakistan.

India is a key member of the Non-Aligned Movement, whose members have been more sympathetic to Iran's quest to possess the nuclear fuel cycle.

On August 8 Iran chose to end its freeze on a part of the fuel cycle -- uranium conversion -- at a facility near the central city of Isfahan.

The Islamic republic had agreed to suspend fuel cycle work but broke the freeze in retaliation to demands from Britain, France and Germany that it scrap its fuel cycle programme in exchange for a package of incentives.

Iran insists it has the right to a peaceful nuclear programme as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although the EU-3 argue the fuel cycle could be diverted from producing reactor fuel to nuclear weapons.

The United States accuses Iran of using its energy drive as a cover for acquiring nuclear weapons.

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