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. EU, Asian nations urge Iran to stop enrichment
HAMBURG, Germany, May 29 (AFP) May 29, 2007
More than 40 European and Asian countries on Tuesday urged Iran to stop uranium enrichment and negotiate a peaceful end to the international standoff over its nuclear programme.

The Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM) of foreign ministers "expressed great concern and disappointment" over the findings of a report issued this month by the UN atomic watchdog warning that Iran could be three to eight years away from making nuclear weapons.

"The meeting urged Iran to comply with the requirements of (UN) resolution 1747 and to suspend its enrichment related activities," ministers from 43 nations meeting in Hamburg said in statement.

The ministers said Iran must actively cooperate with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to prove its claims that the aims of its nuclear programme are purely peaceful.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran, which says it just wants to produce energy for a growing population whose fossil fuels will eventually run out.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana confirmed that he was due to hold talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Spain on Thursday.

It will be their second round of talks in just over a month to aimed at breaking the deadlock over the Iranian atomic standoff.

The ASEM meeting also called for a resumption of negotiations on North Korea's nuclear programme to allow the implementation of a stalled deal under which Pyongyang agreed in February to give up its arsenal.

"The meeting called on all parties to implement the February 13 agreement without delay," the ASEM ministers said.

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