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. Iran ready to resume nuclear talks with Europeans: Russian FM
MOSCOW (AFP) Dec 03, 2005
Iran is ready to resume talks on its nuclear program with the European Union, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday, expressing hope negotiations will resume in the near future.

Lavrov said that thanks the close contacts Russia has maintained with the parties "we have succeeded in keeping the Iranian question within the framework of the IAEA ... which gives us the possibility of relaunching negotiations between the EU-3 and Tehran, and Iran is ready for that," Lavrov told journalists.

Last month the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) put off taking Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions, after the EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- agreed to give more time for new Russian diplomacy to work.

Backed by the United States, the European Union is trying to resume talks with Iran on guaranteeing the Islamic Republic is not secretly developing nuclear weapons, as Washington claims.

Lavrov reiterated Moscow's proposal -- even though Tehran has rejected it -- which would allow Iran to conduct uranium enrichment outside the country in Russia. In that way Iran would not be able to obtain the nuclear technology crucial to making atom bombs.

"We think" the idea of organizing the uranium enrichment outside Iran's borders "is still possible" and "could allow us to reach an accord and manage the Iranian nuclear problem," Lavrov said.

He also said the talks will take place "in the near future," after a meeting with his new German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Steinmeier added that Germany hoped "Iran would realize the necessity of returning to negotiations and we see a good chance of attaining results at the next round of talks."

EU-Iran talks collapsed in August when Iran ended its suspension of uranium conversion, the first step towards making enriched uranium, which can be used to fuel nuclear reactors or as the explosive core of atom bombs.

On Wednesday Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said preliminary negotiations on resuming talks between Iran and the EU will start within two weeks.

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