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. EU's Solana hopeful of new nuclear talks with Iran
BRUSSELS, March 16 (AFP) Mar 16, 2008
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Sunday that he hoped to meet Iran's top nuclear negotiator within the next three months, a day after Iran ruled out further talks with major world powers.

"I hope to be able to meet soon" with Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili, he said at the Brussels Forum conference in the Belgian capital.

Solana, who has led talks aimed at persuading Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, said he did not expect a meeting in coming days because "nothing dramatic is going to happen" in the wake of last week's elections there.

He said a possible time frame might be in "30 days to 90 days".

"Let's see what is the response" from Tehran, he said.

The UN Security Council two weeks ago tightened sanctions against Tehran for a third time over its refusal to heed the world body's calls to freeze uranium enrichment, a potential weapons-making process.

A review is scheduled 90 days after they were imposed.

Solana has, for almost two years, been trying to persuade the Islamic republic to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for a vast package of political, trade and economic incentives.

As he held out this carrot, UN Security Council pressure has mounted.

But Tehran maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

It has refused to suspend enrichment -- a process to fuel an atomic reactor which, at highly refined levels, could be used to make a bomb -- as a precondition for starting talks on the offer.

On Saturday, Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said: "The issue of nuclear talks with the countries of the 5+1 is over."

He was referring to the five permanent security council members plus Germany whom Solana is negotiating on behalf of.

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