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. Six powers to meet next week in Europe for Iran talks
WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (AFP) Oct 10, 2007
Six world powers engaged in talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program will meet next week in Europe to discuss tightening UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic, US officials said Wednesday.

Political directors from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States will meet on October 17 although the exact time and place has not yet been finalized, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"Nick Burns and his political director counterparts are going to be getting together a week from today in Europe to talk about the elements and language that would comprise a sanctions resolution," he said.

US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns last met with his five counterparts on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also met with her counterparts in New York at which they decided to await further reports on Tehran's compliance with UN nuclear experts due in November before pushing for further sanctions.

However, they agreed their political directors should meet in the interim at least once or even twice.

"Place and exact time on next Wednesday to be determined; they're working that out right now," added McCormack.

Rice is due to travel to Moscow on Friday for new talks, which are sure to focus in part on Iran's nuclear program, amid Moscow's reluctance to impose fresh UN sanctions, which would be the third set slapped on Tehran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow has no evidence Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon after talks in Moscow with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We do not have information that Iran is trying to create a nuclear weapon. We operate on the principle that Iran does not have those plans," Putin said.

Iran has flouted the UN Security Council calls for it to suspend uranium enrichment, but insists its atomic drive is entirely peaceful and solely aimed at generating energy.

Iran has agreed on a timetable with the UN nuclear watchdog for it to answer outstanding questions over its nuclear program to allow the agency to bring a four year investigation to a close.

The White House meanwhile said it supported moves for greater freedom in Iran.

"The people in Iran deserve better than the regime that they have. And we stand with those who are standing for freedom and their right to free speech and assembly," said White House spokesman Dana Perino.

She was speaking after a group of about 100 Iranian students at the country's top university in Tehran staged a noisy protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday shortly before he gave a speech there.

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