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. EU wants to resume talks with Iran, dismisses military threat
NEWPORT, Wales (AFP) Sep 02, 2005
The European Union reiterated Friday that it wants to resume nuclear talks with Iran, denying that anybody was threatening military action against the Islamic state.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, speaking after hosting a two-day meeting with his EU counterparts, said leaders will study closely a report to be published this weekend by the UN nuclear watchdog into Iran's nuclear plans.

The United States suspects that the Islamic republic is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and has long threatened to refer the issue to the UN Security Council.

But the European bloc resisted that call, and launched negotiations with Tehran -- offering trade and other benefits in exchange for pledges on its nuclear plans -- after striking an accord with it in Paris last November.

Those talks -- spearheaded by the so-called EU-3 of Britain, France and Germany, along with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana -- however broke down last month after Iran ignored calls not to resume sensitive nuclear activities.

"We want to see these talks resumed, because we not only believe this is in the interest of the international community but also in the interests of Iran," Straw told reporters.

He said a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), due to be published on Saturday, will be a key element in deciding what to do next. "We'll see what (the IAEA) reports tomorrow," he said.

After that "we'll consult with colleagues and we hope that these talks can indeed take place," he added.

And in a clear reference to concerns that Washington could use the breakdown of talks with Tehran to threaten military action, Straw underlined that only diplomacy could resolve the standoff.

"Nobody's proposing military action in respect of Iran, nobody whatsoever. It's not on anybody's agenda at all. This is an issue which needs to be resolved and can only be resolved by diplomatic means," he said.

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