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. EU renews call to Iran to resume nuclear talks
STRASBOURG (AFP) Nov 16, 2005
The European Union renewed Wednesday a call to Iran to resume negotiations with Europe over its suspect nuclear programme, while reiterating condemnation of recent comments on Israel by its president.

The EU's British presidency said Tehran is at a crucial juncture in its international relations, after it resumed sensitive nuclear activities in defiance of an accord with the EU last year.

"Iran must provide objective guarantees that its nuclear programme is for solely peaceful purposes," said British Europe minister Douglas Alexander, representing the EU presidency at a debate on Iran at the European Parliament.

The 25-nation EU, represented by the so-called EU-3 of Britain, France and Germany, has been seeking to convince Iran to restrain its nuclear ambitions in return for economic and political benefits.

But talks with Iran broke off in August when Iran, under new hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, resumed uranium conversion in defiance of an accord with the EU struck in Paris last November.

The United States has long accused the Islamic state of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and warned Tehran could be hauled before the UN Security Council, although it has backed European efforts to engage with Tehran so far.

The British minister said that the EU is consulting with other countries including the United States, Russia, China, India and South Africa "about the next steps."

"We all look to Iran to reinstate the suspension of uranium conversion activity which was agreed last year," he said. "We urge Iran to come back to talks on long term arrangements on the basis of the Paris agreement."

He meanwhile reiterated condemnation of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's widely-slammed comment last month that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

"These are deeply troubling statements," in particular in the context of the questions over its nuclear plans, said Alexander. "Iran is facing crucial choices about its future at this time," he added.

"The world is watching."

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